Sightseeing at that Hot Springs Town
Editing: Ulti, Xenthur
“Dust, do you have a moment?”
I was roaming the town, searching for pretty women and ways to make easy money like I usually do, when I heard someone call out to me from behind.
“Oh hey, Kazuma. What’s up?”
A weak-looking, plain faced man greeted me as I turned around.
He looks to be a weakling no matter where you’re coming from, but it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that he’s the most accomplished adventurer in this town.
In addition, he’s also my best friend.
“Are you in a rush?”
“Nah, I’m quite free right now. Ever since I got revived by that party loving priest of your after that hydra gulped me down, my body hasn’t been feeling great. I’ve been taking a little rest since then.”
“Oh, yeah, that did happen a couple of months ago. You still haven’t recovered from it? This is lucky, then. I won a few vouchers for a hotel in Alcanretia from the raffle that the shopping district was hosting. It includes traveling expenses. So, you interested?”
“Seriously!? Of course I’m interested! Alcanretia is the city of hot springs and water that is famous as a health resort, right? Gimme!”
“S-Sure… It makes me feel a little guilty when you’re so eager…”
“What, is there some kind of downside to this?”
Kazuma smiled wryly.
It’s probably something like the inn is haunted, that’s why it’s so cheap or something like that. It’s the shopping district that the petty owner of the general store is part of, after all.
“Rather than downside, it’s more like the inn and the entire town is… Well, the town might actually be quite a good fit for you.”
“Then there’s no problem, is there? But, is this really okay? Not that I’d return it even if you ask me to.”
“Y-Yeah, we already went there once. We don’t really want to go back there…”
“Ah, I see. Visiting tourist spots once is more than enough, right?”
Kazuma averted his gaze and sighed.
I’ve heard rumours that he visited that town quite some time ago. He went with the usual three girls and the beautiful shopkeeper of the magic item store that Sir Vanir was working at.
There’s no way nothing happened when visiting a hot springs resort with such a group, but when I asked him about it, he would just become listless and say ‘I don’t want to remember it…’, so I didn’t pry any further.
Normally you’d expect something enviable to happen during such a trip, but judging from his reaction, not only did something like that not happen, but he ended up experiencing something really unpleasant over there.
Well, that’s to be expected with those problem children.
The crazy Archpriest who would boldly proclaim herself to be a goddess.
The crazy Archmage who thinks of nothing but releasing her Explosion.
And the crazy, total masochist Crusader who couldn’t land any of her attacks.
“… It’s been hard on you.”
“So you do understand!”
He tearfully exclaimed when I gently patted him on the shoulder.
I knew it, he must have experienced something really horrible over there. It’s no surprise that he wouldn’t want to go back.
“Seems like the shopping district has an abundance of vouchers, so I got eight of them. You can take all of them if you want.”
“Oh, thanks. I’ll gladly have them.”
So, eight people, huh? Keith, Taylor, Lynn, and I takes four, so that leaves four more slots.
A number of faces appeared in my mind, so I guess I’ll go invite them.
After inviting my party members… Yeah, he’ll probably be in that magic item shop.
“Guys, this is a little sudden, but we’re going on a trip the day after tomorrow.”
I told my party as we were having a meal at our usual spot at the guild.
I expected them to act a little more surprised, but they simply continued eating after throwing me a doubtful glance.
“Hey, hey, shouldn’t you guys say something? I’m doing this to help cure Keith and Taylor too!
Come on, at least show me a little courtesy!”
“Dust, before we talk about taking a trip, do you even have the money required to pay for it? We haven’t scheduled any quests recently, so we have the time, but you don’t have the money, do you? You’re the only one who didn’t get any rewards from the Hydra battle, after all.”
“I used the money you got from selling the dragon’s treasure to repay your debts, so don’t expect anything from that.”
“Oh, thank you so very much for repaying my debts for me!”
“Don’t mention it.”
I said through gritted teeth, and Lynn returned with a laugh.
She said that she would sell it for cash, so I trusted her with it, but she used it to repay my debts. before I knew it.
Well, I incurred some new debts after those were cleared, so things haven’t changed much.
The three of them stopped eating and fixed a suspicious gaze on me.
“You can relax on that point. I won’t ask you for money. It’ll be my treat!”
I proudly declared.
Taylor let out a small chuckle and returned to his food.
“Hey, if you won a windfall through one of your games, then go repay your debts. You weren’t up to anything criminal, were you?”
“Dust’s really bad at gambling, so there’s no way he made a windfall with that. I’m sure he got that money through some underhanded means.”
“Why the hell do you think I can only earn money through gambling or criminal acts!? I’ve still got quite some money from selling some of those porn books! And I got vouchers from Kazuma that cover lodging and travel fees!”
The moment I said that, my companions instantly perked up.
“You should’ve said that earlier. Where’s the destination?”
“As expected of Kazuma-sama. How many nights are we staying?”
“It’s nice to go for a little R&R every once in a while.”
“They sure got energetic all of a sudden…”
They ignored my grumbles and started talking animatedly.
Seems like everyone intends to join. That makes four people.
Right, I guess I’ll go invite that person who takes care of me every day.
At a certain famous Magic Item shop in Axel.
“Fuhahaha! You sure have an admirable attitude, debt-ridden adventurer!”
Sir Vanir responded as such when I offered him the voucher.
I wanted to offer an invitation to the beautiful shopkeeper too, but it seems like she’s out to make some purchases. Plus, I’ve heard that she went with Kazuma the previous time, so I think I’ll pass on inviting her.
“Sir has helped me a lot in the past, after all. This seems like the perfect chance to repay you for that.”
“Were Moi not a devil, such an act would’ve raised my affection points by quite a bit. Very well, Moi shall accept your offering. The city of hot springs and water, huh. That foolish town that would get involved with that layabout goddess. Moi has always wanted to see it with my own eyes.”
“Who exactly are you calling a layabout goddess!?”
The one who interrupted the conversation was the girl who was fiddling around with various items in the store, Kazuma’s Archpriest, Aqua.
Despite being on bad terms with Sir, it seems like she spends quite a bit of time in this store..
“I’m referring to the girl who nonchalantly comes here to drink tea without buying anything and badgers the incompetent shopkeep daily. Yes, the self-proclaimed, blue-haired goddess with a truly pitiful brain.”
“Oh, this place was a shop? I’ve never seen any customers here, so I thought it was a rest stop or something. My bad~”
Aqua cutely tilted her head and clasped her hands together, trying to provoke Sir Vanir.
“Certainly, there are no customers here, merely trash and pests.”
“Sir, doesn’t that mean…”
“Umm… Does that include me…”
I think I heard someone else’s voice along with mine, but it was probably my imagination.
“Hah!? Who are you calling a pest!? You’re a devil! You’re even lower than pests!”
“Unlike a good-for-nothing like you, Moi routinely tidies the rubbish, chases away crows, and has a good reputation amongst the neighbors. Don’t lump me together with you who does nothing but drink in the guild all day.”
“Grrr! Devils like you should cause some trouble for the residents so I can purify you!”
“If you’re talking about causing trouble, shouldn’t we first talk about your troublesome religious organization that encourages swindling and the use of forceful methods?”
“I can accept you speaking badly of me, but I won’t forgive you for speaking badly of my children! That’s it, I’m mad now! I’ll send you back to hell right here!”
“You’re offering to send me back to my homeland without charge? Well, this might be the first time something good came out of your mouth, you source of all evils!”
Both of them seemed fairly on edge as they slowly inched closer to each other.
This is quite a dangerous situation. They might have some… interesting personalities, but there’s no denying that both of them are quite skilled.
I’ll definitely be dragged in if they go wild here.
“Oh, yeah, Kazuma was looking for you earlier. He was saying something about hiding things from him.”
“I wonder what it could be? Ah, don’t tell me that Kazuma found out that I was using his jacket as a tablecloth before I washed it? Hmp, seems like you got lucky today. I’ll let you off this time.”
After saying something that you would never expect to come out from a priest’s mouth, Aqua hastily left.
“Don’t ever come back again, you goddess of misfortune! Where’s the salt!?”
Vanir leaned out the door and angrily shouted towards Aqua’s quickly retreating back.
A priest being treated as a nuisance by a devil… What has this world come to?
“Oh, Sir, that layabout goddess you were talking about earlier is referring to the Goddess Aqua, right?”
“Oh, yeah, you don’t know. Don’t worry about it, it’s but a trifling matter. Anyway, about the hot springs trip, I see some interesting things down that path, so you can look forward to it.”
“That just makes me more anxious, Sir.”
I can’t ignore the words of the Devil that can see through all.
After all, I ended up going through something horrible after he said something similar in the past.
“It’s not just bad things that will happen on the trip, you know? Hot springs means mixed baths. It seems that you have some expectations on that front. Worry not, those expectations will be met.”
“Delinquent whose head is filled with desires that cannot be shown to others, if Moi says anything more right now, it might end up bringing disaster upon you.”
Sir was looking somewhere behind me as he said that. I followed his gaze and saw Yunyun sitting by the window and looking at me suspiciously.
I didn’t notice her presence until now.
“Oh, you were there? So you’ve improved your loner powers to the point where you can erase your presence completely. That’s amazing.”
“You’re not praising me, are you!?… No, nevermind that, what were you guys talking about just now? It seems like you’re looking forward to the mixed baths, but the only women who’d use them would be those of quite a ripe age. There aren’t that many young girls who would make use of them.”
Yunyun was looking at me with contempt.
What she’s saying might make sense, but it doesn’t sit well with me to be talked down to by a girl as unknowing of the world as Yunyun.
“Hey, you were holed up in the Crimson Demon village before you came to Axel, right? You’re telling me to trust in your knowledge of the world? Have you never thought that what you know of might be wrong?”
“What are you saying? Common sense should apply wherever you are! At the very least, I can say I’m better than Megumin!”
“So you’re saying that the Crimson Demons have the same way of thinking as the rest of the world?”
“… When you put it that way…”
I’ve heard that Yunyun was regarded as an odd one amongst the Crimson Demons.
Generally speaking, Crimson Demons have a different set of values and way of thinking as compared to the rest of the world. A prime example is that Explosion Girl.
Standing out in battle is the utmost importance to them, and introductions need to be done in that embarrassing, bombastic fashion. That’s their common sense.
Despite having been raised in such an environment, Yunyun is surprisingly sensible. Thus, she’s very vulnerable when attacked from that direction.
“As a friend, I’m really worried about you. You’ll just needlessly embarrass yourself if you don’t understand the common sense of the world. And given how shy you are around others, there’s no way you’ll be able to learn this by talking to people, right? That’s why I’m explaining this to you.”
“You’re more of an acquaintance than a friend, but I’ll thank you for your concern.”
This girl is really gullible, to the point where it seriously worries me.
… But I’ll make use of that personality of hers in this case.
“Mixed baths have been trending recently, and it’s highly recommended that young women make use of them. It’s important to take care of your skin when you’re young. Apparently, having their skin seen by men makes something go boom and brings out their luster.”
“Your explanation seems haphazard and isn’t convincing at all. I can’t see it as anything but the product of some perverted scheme. In any case, it has nothing to do with me.”
“It does have something to do with you. I still have a whole bunch of the vouchers that I gave to Sir. Would you like one?”
“Eh, you’re offering one to me!?”
She seems really surprised. Doesn’t seem like she expected that.
When I handed one of the vouchers over…
“Wow! It’s a little strange for Dust to offer something like this, but it’s the first time I’ve been invited on a trip together with a large number of people. I need to write this in my diary later!”
Her eyes were shimmering as she said that.
She was quite excited when I invited her on an adventure a couple of days ago, so this wasn’t entirely unexpected, but still, I didn’t think she’d be this excited.
… She’s so overjoyed that I felt a little sympathetic for her.
She happily stared at the voucher in her hand for a while, grinning from ear to ear, but she suddenly looked up at me with a fearful expression on her face.
“Ah, don’t tell me you have your eyes set on me!? I’m not that easy of a woman!”
“I have no interest in that kid-like body of yours. If you say that you would like to enter the mixed baths, the other women might let their guard down and join you. I’m betting on that scenario!”
She doesn’t have a bad body, but she’s way too young for me to make a move on her.
It’d be pretty nice if she were two years older, though.
“It’s a relief to hear that you aren’t interested in me, but that’s infuriating too!”
“Then what do you want? This is why women are so troublesome!”
I’ve always been bad at dealing with women.
“I’m honestly happy that you invited me, but there’s no point in trying to trick me. No matter what you say, I’m not entering the mixed baths.”
“Do as you wish.”
Despite her complains, Yunyun certainly seemed quite pleased about this whole affair.
After telling her the date of the trip, she said ‘I need to make preparations!’ and happily skipped out the door.
“The girl who’s reached the zenith of loners seems to be in a good mood. As a friend, Moi should offer my gratitude. As thanks for that and driving that party goddess away before she caused a ruckus, take this with you.”
Sir took a small marble off the shelf and placed it on the table.
It felt slightly squishy in my hand as I touched it.
“Oh, do be careful with that. It will create a large quantity of smoke when it hits the ground. It’s not dangerous, but those that inhale the smoke will fall in love with the user. Yes, it’s an item that grants the desires of men.”
“Huh!? Such a dreamlike item is… You’re kidding! Sir, can I really have this? Not that I’d return it even if you asked me to.”
“Devils do not go back on their word. Make good use of it. However, it will not work on a complete stranger. One must have a certain degree of familiarity with the target in order for it to work. Keep that in mind…”
Sir seems to be saying something, but I wasn’t really paying attention right now.
I quickly ended the conversation and flew out of the store.
“Right, then, next is… Oops, hey.”
As I walked down the main street, deep in thought, I suddenly received a bump to my shoulder.
Seems like I ran into someone while I wasn’t paying attention.
“Hey, watch where you’re going. Well, if you’re a young girl, I might consider treating you gently… Wait, you’re the guy from-”
That voice sounded vaguely familiar, so I turned around, and the three men immediately averted their gazes.
I only saw their faces for an instant, but I feel like I’ve seen them somewhere before…
“Say, have we met before?”
“It’s probably just your imagination, right, boss?”
“Idiot! Don’t call me boss!”
They were whispering something amongst themselves. Well, I have no interest in the secret conversations of men, so I bid them a ‘Oh, is that so? Sorry,’ and carried on.
Normally I’d stick with them to try and wring some money out of, but I’m only focused on how to put that marble to use right now, and that would be time I can’t afford to waste.
“Anyone who breathes in the smoke in this thing will fall for me, right? That means I need to find the proper scene to use it. Dropping it in the women’s baths or a bar seems like it’d be interesting, but it won’t work unless I’m acquainted with them…”
In other words, the best time to use it would be when a lot of women I know gather together.
In order to create such a situation, I’ll put the remaining two vouchers to good use!
“That’s the only way.”
I’ll use the vouchers to invite women that I know on the trip. Once they are all gathered, I’ll use the marble to make them all fall for me. That’s a pretty good plan, if I say so myself.
The only problem is who those two people will be.
The only female acquaintances that come to mind would be the other adventurers, but I’m not particularly well acquainted with them.
We have surprisingly little contact despite being fellow adventurers. Female adventurers in particular tend to keep their distance from me for some reason, so our relationship only really extends to trading the occasional greeting.
Those three girls popped up in my head, but I immediately pushed them out.
I’ll leave them to Kazuma.
“Just two more left. I’ll have to carefully decide on who to bring.”
“Um, Dust-san, can you stop mumbling while pacing in front of the store?”
Hearing a familiar voice, I looked up and met the eyes of Loli Succubus, who was sweeping away dirt outside the cafe.
Seems like I subconsciously walked over to the succubus shop.
“You, huh… even if someone with such few curves were to fall for me…”
“You sure are saying something very rude all of a sudden. No matter what happens, I won’t ever fall for Dust-san, so rest assured. The only one in my heart is Vanir-sama!”
Come to think of it, most of the succubi are big fans of Sir.
Vanir is quite highly ranked compared to the succubi, so it seems like a lot of them look up to him.
This girl will undoubtedly want to come along if I told her that Vanir is coming with us. It’d be quite easy to bring her along; the question is if there’s any benefit for me to do so.
“Do you get along well with the other succubi?”
“Where did this come from? Well, we get along well enough. They’ve been asking me for tips on how to create better lewd dreams lately.”
“You seem pretty proud about that, but isn’t that due to my help?”
It’s true that the quality of their dreams have been increasing lately. I’ll acknowledge that.
But that’s only due to the advice that I’ve been sharing with Loli Succubus.
“Er, when you put it that way… But unlike you, I have a lot of friends. Yeah.”
“I have a lot of friends too. There’s Taylor, Keith, Lynn. Kazuma. Then there’s Yunyun, and… and…”
“Who else is there?”
“Wait. Hold on a minute! There are definitely others! There’s a whole bunch of guys who help me out with my schemes!”
“Those don’t really count as friends, right? I have a lot of friends~ I’m on good terms with the other Succubi, and I’m familiar enough with the various adventurers that I’ve shown dreams to that we’ll engage in small talk when we run into each other on the street.”
It’s the complete opposite of Yunyun.
Well, now that I think about it, it’s probably to be expected for Loli Succubus to have better interpersonal relationships than Yunyun.
She doesn’t have a very good figure, but she’s friends with the Succubi with sexier figures. If I make her fall for me, I can get her to introduce me to her friends later.
Yeah, that can work!
“Right, I’ll give this to you.”
“What’s this? A voucher for a trip to Alcanretia? Umm, I don’t have any money right now, so I’m not buying it.”
“I said I’ll give it to you, didn’t I? You’ve helped me out quite a bit in the past, and you’re giving me a big hand at night too, so this is just a little thank you for that.”
“This smells really fishy. And, Alcanretia is that city, right?”
Don’t pick it up with your fingertips like you’re holding something dirty.
Why the hell can’t anyone just accept a person’s goodwill?
“Well, if you don’t want it, I don’t really mind. Sir Vanir will be accompanying us, though.”
“I’ll go! When is it!? Is it today!? Tomorrow!?”
“C-Calm down! I get it, so calm down!”
After somehow calming Loli Succubus down enough to tell her the date, she immediately ran off from the shop.
“I have to buy some clothes that look like they’d catch Vanir-sama’s eye!”
I heard an excited voice from somewhere down the street.
I’m a little jealous of Sir Vanir’s popularity, but she’ll probably thank me for this, so I consoled myself with that.
There’s only one voucher left.
A girl who’s on good enough terms to accept an invitation from me, huh?
Just then, a certain figure appeared in my mind.
Right now, there’s a lack of women with erotic bodies. If I manage to invite her, the entertainment value I’d get from the mixed baths will be doubled.
Well, she probably won’t accept, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
“Megumin! Listen to this! Someone invited me to go on a trip!”
“Did you fall victim to some kind of suspicious salesman? Or did someone pressure you into buying it? I’ll go with you, so let’s get your money back.”
The two crimson demons were excitedly chatting in an alleyway next to the guild.
It feels like I’ll just be dragged into a whole host of trouble if I were to call out to them, so I think I’ll just scoot by.
“I didn’t buy into any strange sales pitches or anything! A guy gave them to me as a gift!”
“And who is that guy? He probably said something like, ‘I’ll be your friend, so let’s check into the inn together,’ or something like that, right? You really should stop following strangers just because they show you a little bit of kindness.”
“Just what kind of person do you think I am, Megumin!?”
“An easy woman.”
“That applies more to you! That person who properly invited me…”
“Look me in the eyes when you say that! I’ve heard some rumours that you’ve been getting close to a blond-haired delinquent recently, but those are just rumours, right!?”
They were arguing about something pointless.
Megumin was vigorously shaking Yunyun who refused to meet her gaze, and in return Yunyun nervously responded with excuses.
It would’ve been fine to just say that you got it from me.
“I bet the whole invitation thing is a lie anyway. You probably got anxious after hearing about me and Kazuma sharing a bath together, that’s why you came up with this fantasy, right? You don’t need to worry over that… After all, it’s too early for you to become an adult.”
“T-That’s not it at all! I did get invited! Don’t give me such a gentle expression while saying that!”
Ignoring those two, I entered the guild and headed straight for the counter.
After arriving in front of Luna who was in charge of the reception, I stared down her cleavage.
This angle provides a really clear view of her peaks. It’s the best!
“Dust-san, do you have some business here?”
She was smiling as she said that, but there was a strange intensity behind it.
She also covered up her cleavage, so I gave up and talked to her.
“You sure work hard every day. Isn’t it tiring to be dealing with such troublesome matters day in and day out? I’m sure your shoulders and back are aching right now.”
“Please stop saying sexually harassing stuff right off the bat. Well, if a certain someone would stop getting into fights with the police, stop getting arrested for perverted actions, and stop attempting to swindle others, perhaps I’d have a slightly easier time of it.”
“There’s such a person? I’ll properly lecture him the next time I see him.”
I confidently responded with a bright smile, and Luna responded with a long sigh.
Seems like she’s accumulated quite a bit of stress.
“Oh, forget it. Anyway, why are you here today? Are you here to pick up a quest?”
“No, that’s not it. I came here to see you today. How would you like to take a trip with me to a hot springs resort?”
“Huh? Where did this come from? If you’re here to hit on girls, please do it elsewhere. Even if you weren’t joking, there’s no way I would be able to take such a long time off. What’s that about a trip? Are you teasing me? Are you provoking me? Is playing around with me really that amusing?”
The smile disappeared off Luna’s face, and she leaned over on the counter as tears started welling up in her eyes.
“I want to go on a trip or two too! Just handling the complaints and issues of adventurers takes up all of my time, and my precious days just keep slipping by! My colleagues keep getting married and retiring, whereas I’m still here, all alone…”
A constant barrage of complaints spewed forth from her mouth. Looks like she really does have a lot of stress built up after all.
In such a situation, my opinion is unnecessary. All I need to do is listen and nod. This is the proper way to respond as told to me by Sir Vanir. Thus-
I was totally exhausted by the time she let me go. The desire to invite her has completely vanished.
I collapsed into the seat by the window and laid down on the table.
“I’m done. Seriously, who cares about the remaining one…”
There’s no need to use all of them up. It’s fine even if there’s one left.
“Say, do you mind giving one of those vouchers to me?”
Looking up at the sound of a familiar voice, I met eyes with a silver-haired thief girl with a scar on her face.
“Aren’t you the thief who was quite close to that masochistic knight and got her panties stolen by Kazuma?”
“Don’t describe me that way! I’m Chris!”
“Ah, right, that was your name. Anyway, where did you hear about the vouchers?”
“After the ruckus you caused with Luna-san, anyone would’ve heard about it.”
Oh yeah, she was half crying and screaming about stuff like wanting to visit a hot spring and take her time rejuvenating both her spirit and body, wasn’t she?
“You want the voucher? Well, here you go. Do as you wish with it.”
“Huh? You’re giving it to me without prying for details? I have some business in Alcanretia, so, is this really fine?”
“At this point, even thinking is a chore. Burn it or sell it or use it as toilet paper, I don’t really care.”
“Ah. Well, I’ll gratefully accept it. I have some business to attend to, so I might be late, but don’t bother waiting for me if that happens.”
It’s too bothersome to reply, so I simply waved her away and laid down on the table.
Well, I managed to give away all the vouchers. Now all there’s to do is wait for the day itself.
Running through the list of women that I managed to invite, I noticed a certain commonality amongst them…
“It’s full of girls with few assets. Seriously, Yunyun’s the most well developed one out of all of them… ”
I had one less thing to look forward to on my hot springs trip.
As I waited at the shelter for the carriages with my party, the other members slowly turned up.
“T-Thank you for inviting me on this trip! T-This is a simple gift, but…”
Yunyun, who showed up with a luggage big enough to fit a person, started handing out courtesy gifts to the others present.
You could say that she’s being polite, but it’s more like she’s just plain unused to meeting others.
“You don’t need to go that far.”
“Oh, we haven’t really had the chance to talk, have we? I’m Keith.”
“I should introduce myself too. I’m Taylor the Crusader.”
“Thank you for your polite greeting. Um, I am-”
Seems like my companions and Yunyun are getting along well. It’d be nice if she becomes a little less of a loner after this.
Oh, yeah, it’s been a week since Keith and Taylor fell ill, hasn’t it? Apparently, they felt extremely lethargic and couldn’t gather up the will to do anything.
Well, they’ve recovered a fair bit by now and seem to be looking forward to enjoying this hot springs trip.
“It appears Moi is a little late. Lecturing that inept shopkeeper took up more time than Moi anticipated.”
“It’s fine for them to wait a little while for Vanir-sama!”
Oh, that sounds like Sir and Loli Succubus.
A masked man in a tuxedo and a girl who seems to be a little more spirited than usual.
Looking at things objectively, it’d be easy to mistake them for father and daughter.
“The man who didn’t get much sleep last night owing to anticipation of the use of that item, is this everyone?”
“Please keep that a secret, Sir! I did invite someone else, but she said that she’ll meet up on location so there’s no need to wait for her, so we can set off now.”
I really hope this ends up being a fun trip.
“Wait, first, we need to handle the division of carriages. There are two four-seater carriages available, so one of them will be me, Lynn, Yunyun, and Lolisa.”
“Hell no! You’ll be the only one surrounded by women in that case! You went and fooled around with them on an adventure before, didn’t you!? This is so unfair! Why the hell are you the only one who gets special treatment!?”
“I-I get it! I get it, so stop wiping your snot and tears on my clothes, Keith!”
I tried to fend Keith off as he clung onto my clothes.
Taylor didn’t say anything, so it seems like he’s fine with that arrangement.
Sir Vanir appears to be enjoying the dark emotions flowing from Keith.
And the girls are…
“Let’s decide with drawing straws or rock-paper-scissors. That’d be fair.”
“I-I think that’s a good idea.”
“I agree with that! Let’s go with drawing straws!”
Drawing straws or rock-paper-scissors, huh?
Heh, this is all within my expectations.
“Oh fine. I thought this might happen, so I prepared the straws in advance. There are ones with red tips and ones that are blank, so we’ll split up with this.”
I took out the straws from my bag.
“You’re pretty well prepared today, huh?”
“You girls can go first.”
Saying that, I offered them to Lynn.
It was all I could do to hide my smile as they reached out for the straws.
– There’s a little trick to these.
Every single one of them has a red tip. I’ll let the girls pick first, and I’ll go immediately after them.
After that, all I have to do is to get rid of the evidence somehow and I’ll have a trip surrounded by girls to look forward to.
“Ah, mine’s red.”
“Mine’s red too. Please let me be with Vanir-sama. Please let me be with Vanir-sama. Please let me be with Vanir-sama…”
“Me too! I brought a lot of games with me, so let’s play them in the carriage!”
Right, now all I have to do is quickly draw one of them and get rid of the evidence.
“It’s quite uncanny that the three girls ended up in the same group. Anyway, I’ll go next…”
Just before I could draw a straw, someone grabbed my hand from the side.
“Hey, what are you doing, Keith? Let go of my hand.”
“You did something to these straws, didn’t you, Dust? I’ll be going next.”
Dammit, did he notice the trick?
He was with me at the gambling den quite a number of times, so he probably picked up on it.
“L-Let go! I didn’t do anything!”
“Then let me go first! If you didn’t do anything, it shouldn’t make any difference!”
As I was struggling with Keith, the straws slipped from my grasp and fell to the floor.
And of course, every single one of them had a red tip.
“I knew it! I’m confiscating these!”
“Dust, this won’t do. We’re redoing things from the start.”
“Underhanded Delinquent, isn’t there a better way to go about doing this?”
Keith held me in a nelson hold while Taylor lectured me.
All of my plans are for not… or so you’d think.
I made eye contact with Loli Succubus and nodded.
“Right, I’ll handle the straws this time. I’ll leave one of them red and the rest will be blank. You girls are fine with how things currently stand, right?”
Saying that, Loli Succubus cut the tips of three of the straws with a knife.
With this, I won’t be able to pull off any tricks… that’s what most people would think.
Everything that happened so far is within my expectations.
Naturally, I had already secured Loli Succubus’s support in advance.
I want to travel together in a carriage with the girls. Then I’ll use the item and enjoy the three of them fawning all over me.
In return for Loli Succubus’s cooperation, I promised that I’d arrange for her and Sir to share a room.
“Why don’t we have Dust go first? Let’s get this over and done with before he has the chance to come up with any more tricks.”
No one thought that she’d be in cahoots with me, so nobody objected.
Yes, they fell for it.
We already arranged for the red straw to be the leftmost one.
I reached out towards that leftmost straw-
“One moment, Underhanded Delinquent. Allow Moi to go first.”
“There is no particular reason behind it, Moi simply felt like going first. There’s no reason to scuffle about the order, is there? Not unless you have some kind of trick up your sleeve…”
Sir had a slight smile as he said that.
Did he see through my plan? Oh, yeah, he’s the great devil that can see the future, isn’t he?
I tried to secretly plead him to let me off, but…
“What kind of strange dance are you doing? It’s a little too early for the festival, you know?”
Shit, Sir likes to taste dark emotions, doesn’t he?
Watching me sweat like this must be like a delicious appetizer to him.
There’s nothing more I can do but place my hopes in Loli Succubus.
“Are you going first, Vanir-sama!? I recommend picking this straw!”
Don’t just smile at him and offer him the red straw!
Weren’t you on my side!?
“Say, why is there no one here but men? It’s all because Dust did all those unnecessary things!”
“Shut up. In the first place, I’d be enjoying a trip surrounded by women by now if you didn’t get in my way!”
“Please cut it out. Seriously, give it a rest and behave yourselves.”
A tired sounding Taylor tried to calm Keith and I down.
After that, Sir pulled out the red straw, of course, and the rest of us men had to spend the journey cooped up in the same carriage.
“He’s probably surrounded by women right now. Ahh, I’m so envious…”
“Don’t say that, Keith. It’s not like we can do anything now. Ah, screw it, I guess I’ll just take a nap.”
There’s nothing I could do, so I decided to just sleep it off.
We ran into a few monsters along the way, but between Yunyun’s magic and Vanir’s mysterious beams of light, they were quickly taken care off.
There’s a vast gulf between their abilities. It’s good that we had an easy trip, but apparently that wasn’t anywhere close to Sir’s true powers.
… I need to make sure never to make him angry.
As the sky began to darken, the carriages stopped and made preparations to set up camp.
We should be able to reach Alcanretia around noon tomorrow.
The carriages formed a circle around the fire that we built. With this, they’ll be able to act as barricades against any potential monster attacks.
After having dinner, we men didn’t have much to do amongst ourselves, so I thought that I’d turn in for an early night.
The girls on the other hand seemed to be having a lively conversation by the fire.
Women sure love to talk, don’t they?
… Wait a moment, they’re all gathered together. This is the perfect chance.
I took out the marble I received from Sir. All I need to do now is approach them in a natural seeming manner and drop it.
“What’s wrong, Dust? Aren’t you sleeping?”
“Not yet, I have something I want to talk to them about. You can go ahead and turn in first, Taylor.”
“I see. Well, Keith already fell asleep, so try not to cause too much of a ruckus… And don’t try to do anything perverted.”
“I won’t do that!”
After confirming Taylor lying down out of the corner of my eye, I slowly wandered over to the girls.
Come to think of it, how strongly do I have to throw it for it to break?
Judging from how it feels in my hand, it seems pretty flexible. I’d probably have to throw it fairly hard to break it.
Naturally start a conversation, then throw the marble against the ground as hard as I can.
… That’s totally suspicious no matter how you look at it.
“What are you doing? Do you have some business with us?”
I arrived before the three of them without realizing it.
Right, first off, start off naturally.
“The weather is pretty nice, isn’t it?”
“It’s completely pitch black out there.”
Looking up, it’s too dark to tell what kind of weather we are having.
I messed up my first step, but I can still salvage this.
“Ah, well, about tomorrow’s plans, is there anything you want to do after reaching Alcanretia?”
“You’re thinking about the hot springs, right? Sorry to disappoint, but we won’t be entering the mixed baths.”
Yunyun hurriedly averted her gaze as Lynn said that.
She probably told them that I was obsessed with the mixed baths.
“Huh? I have no interests in looking at breasts that may or may not even exist. If you really want to show them off to me, I can look at them from below while licking with my tongue-”
“I’ll rather die than than let you see them. Actually, go die, you pervert!”
“Such actions are against the law!”
“It’s best to keep that sort of things in your dreams.”
Such reactions are within my expectations.
In fact it’s going pretty much as I imagined it. Now, I’ll raise this marble while pretending to stretch.
“Hey, you don’t have to go that far! Ahh, fine. Guess I’ll do a little light exercise before turning in. One, two, three, four.”
Right, now all I need to do is throw this marble against the ground.
Aiming for the center of where they are gathered, I threw the marble with all of my might.
“Ah! Where did this wind come from!? *cough cough*”
Just before the marble broke, a strong gust carried a bunch of dust through the camp, causing everyone to close their eyes.
As a result, they didn’t see what I did.
Yes, yes, this is great! With this, my harem is complete. I wonder what these girls will do now that they are heads over heels for me.
“Hey, don’t you girls have anything to say to the great Dust-sama?”
Saying that, I looked down towards the three… only to find them looking at me with a gaze of scorn.
Huh? Isn’t that odd?
“What are you saying? Have you been drinking? Don’t just barge in while we’re having some girl’s talk. Come on, go over there. Shoo shoo.”
“Yeah. I always looked forward to talking about matters of romance with other girls before heading to bed.”
“… Please go someplace else.”
This is completely different from what I’ve been told.
Weren’t they supposed to fall for me after breathing in the smoke from the marble?
Smoke did come out, so… could it be that the gust earlier dispersed it?
Ah, dammit! I should’ve waited till they were indoors to do this instead of rushing it!
Forget falling for me, they look like they might be seriously ticked off right now.
“Yeah, yeah, seems like I was just in the way. Fine, I’ll just go to sleep.”
This was a one in a lifetime chance, and I just wasted it.
In the first place, I didn’t even know if that item even worked at all. There’s a high chance that it was defective from the start.
“Guess this is it. Sigh.”
Returning to where Taylor and Keith were sleeping, I spread a blanket over the ground and collapsed into it.
I should’ve been enjoying a glass of beer while surrounded by three girls right now. Dammit.
“What’s wrong? It seems like something’s eating you.”
“Did you get into a fight with them?”
Taylor and Keith asked, apparently having been awoken by my arrival.
They had a genuine look of concern on their faces.
“Yeah, what I really should be looking for is male friends. Women are no good.”
“Ah, of course, women are no good… Hanging out with us guys is the best.”
“I agree. Hanging out with men is better than women. It’s easier for men to understand each other… and it also feels better.”
Are the two of them trying to comfort me?
Normally they’d be making fun of me… Friends are great things to have, aren’t they?
“Yeah, yeah! Friendship between men are the best… hey, why are the two of you shifting closer to me?”
“It’s a little cold out tonight, right? It isn’t too bad for us men to huddle together every once in a while.”
“Let’s warm ourselves up. While we are at it, we can comfort each other as fellow men…”
The two of them slowly shifted closer from both sides.
Is it just me, or do their eyes look bloodshot? And it feels like their cheeks is redder than normal…
Seeing that reminded me of that time with Lynn- Yes, it’s the same sort of expression that the noble had.
“W-Wait a moment! Cut it out with the jokes!!”
“I’ve always thought that your firm butt was quite impressive…”
“I like guys with huge pecs…”
“Stop saying such scary things! Seriously, don’t say things that’ll change the way I look at you!”
The two of them approached with crazed eyes.
Backpedaling, I felt my back run up against something hard.
Turning around in a panic, I saw Sir Vanir standing there.
“D-Don’t tell me Sir is aiming for my ass too!?”
“Moi has no gender, thus Moi is not interested in such matters. Still, this has turned into an interesting situation as I expected. You truly are a man that I can never grow tired of.”
Sir Vanir had a smile playing upon his face as he said that. It seems like he’s well aware of what’s going on.
“Sir, this is different from what you told me! It didn’t have any effect on the girls at all, and then these guys started acting weird!”
“There was a gale, wasn’t there? Seems like these two ended up breathing in quite a bit of the smoke and went into heat. That inept shopkeeper surprisingly bought a functioning item for once.”
“You used me as a test subject!”
“Fuhahaha! Don’t get that angry. From what I’ve read, this is a fine item. It will take some time for the effects to show if a small amount is breathed in, but if someone inhales a large amount of smoke at once, it would cause their emotions to go into overdrive. If someone of the same sex were to breathe it in… The effects will probably wear off after about an hour.”
I listened to what Sir was saying as I kept the two crazed beasts at bay with my sheathed sword.
Seeing men panting heavily as they approached me is far scarier than any monster I’ve faced.
“They’ll be in this state for an entire hour!?”
“Do try your best to get away. If you were caught by them, Moi cannot guarantee that your ass will come out of this incident intact. The great devil that sees through all so declares-”
I ran away from the scene without waiting for Sir to finish his sentence.
“Why the hell does this keep happening to me!? Just what did I do!?”
“Though, if a person of the opposite sex were to breathe it in, it would take time for it to come into effect, and it should last one or two days…”
Sir seems to be saying something else, but I don’t have the luxury of paying attention right now.
The monster infested plains are far safer than this place is right now!
I’ll escape from these two even if it kills me!
“Hey, why do you guys look so tired? I think I saw the three off you run off somewhere last night, but what did you do?”
I’m riding the carriage together with my usual party today.
Keith and Taylor are completely slouched into their seats in the carriage. As for me, I’m so tired that even answering that question was too bothersome for me.
“Well, I had a really strange dream last night. I really don’t want to recall it.”
“You too, Taylor?”
The two of them chased me in a half naked state for over an hour.
I ran with more desperation than I ever did while fighting monsters, but they eventually caught up to me. Fortunately, before they could do anything, they mysteriously fell over and started snoring.
I couldn’t possibly leave the two of them out there alone, so after some effort, I managed to drag them back to their sleeping spots.
Conveniently, the two of them think that it was all a dream. There’s no need to tell them the truth.
“Did you have a weird dream too, Dust?”
“Y-Yeah. Let’s leave it at that. I don’t really want to think about it.”
Even after they’ve regained their senses, just looking at them put me on guard.
I’d be able to accept it somehow if they were women, but why the hell did it have to be them?
In the end, none of the girls breathed the smoke in, so it didn’t work. Even if it did work, the effect would’ve long faded away by now. Just like these two.
“To think the three of you would get nightmares on the same night. Lolisa can use a dream controlling spell, right? Maybe you should get her to show you some good dreams tonight. Oh, yeah, you should drink some water, Dust. You look really pale.”
I resigned myself to being made fun of, but to think that Lynn’d be concerned for me.
She even moved over to me and started fussing over me.
…Is she planning some kind of trick or something?
Seeing this level of concern from her is uncanny. She has to be planning something.
“Ah, thanks for the water.”
Well, it’d be scary in it’s own way if I were to earn her ire here, so I guess I’ll just go along with it for now.
Our hands briefly touched as she passed the cup over to me.
“T-That wasn’t on purpose! It really was just a coincidence!”
“I know that. I wouldn’t get angry over something of that level.”
Nevermind getting angry, she even gently covered the part where we made contact with her other hand… The hell?
Just what is she plotting?
Taylor and Keith have both nodded off due to their fatigue, so they didn’t pick up on Lynn’s unusual behaviour.
This is scary. This is really scary! Watching her behave with such kindness is really strange!
I tried to get help from Taylor and Keith, but they didn’t stir at all.
Afterwards, Lynn stuck close to me and chatted over various things.
Keeping her possible motives at the back of my mind, I tried my best not to be swept up by this strange atmosphere in the carriage as we rode on.
“Dust, Dust, Alcanretia is in sight!”
Lynn enthusiastically slapped me on the back as she leaned out the window.
She’s in surprisingly high spirits today. I might be imagining it, but it feels like we’ve been having a lot more bodily contact. She’s even happily clinging onto my arm. Seriously, just what the hell is going on?
Looking out the window to distract myself from this inexplicable fear I was feeling, I was greeted by a breathtakingly beautiful sight.
A sea of blue topped buildings as befitting the city of water spread out before me, and the labyrinth of waterways spread throughout made the entire city give off a blue shine.
“Ooh, it really is a beautiful place. As expected of the famous healing resort. I should bring back a nice souvenir for Kazuma.”
“Yeah, we should properly thank him. Why don’t we go shop around for a souvenir later?”
Lynn showed me an unblemished smile. I’ve never seen her look at me in such a gentle way before.
And she just invited me to go shopping with her…
“Hey, what’s up with you? Is this some kind of new trick? Every time I tried to go shopping with you, you’d say something like ‘you’d just buy some sake on your own and get me to treat you, so no’ and decline.”
“You really don’t understand a woman’s heart, do you, Dust? I just want to cheer you up, that’s why…”
She’s looking at me with upturned eyes. Wait, could this situation be… It can’t be!
My popular period… No, could it be that the marble actually took effect?
Considering her actions so far, that certainly is the most likely explanation. However, wouldn’t it have worn off by now?
Lynn was coughing back then, so perhaps she sucked in a bit more smoke than the others and thus allowed the effect to persist.
No, I’m sure that’s what happened! Please let it be the case!
That changes things. There’s only one course of action a man can take in such a situation.
“Well, if you feel like it.”
Towards Lynn’s slowly approaching face, I-
“We’ve arrived, Dust-san!”
As the door to the carriage suddenly flew open, Lynn and I hurriedly distanced ourselves.
Yunyun and Loli Succubus were standing before the open door.
The two of them greeted me with bright smiles, but, when their gaze met Lynn’s, for the briefest of instants, those smiles faltered.
It could’ve just been the trick of my eye, but it felt like they were staring daggers at her for a moment.
They were getting along so well together when I saw them last night. Did something happen?
Nothing good ever comes out of getting involved in the quarrels of women. It might be best to keep my distance for a while.
“Oh, so we have. Let’s head to the inn first to drop off our luggage.”
Keith and Taylor plodded their way over to the inn. I think they’re talking to someone in the distance. Most likely, they are asking about recommended sights and the like.
“Hmm? The steam from this hot spring is… Ouch! Vanir-sama, this steam stings when you touch it!”
“So this is the city of layabouts, Alcanretia. As expected of the city that worships that brainless goddess, it has a most deplorable air about it.”
The residents of the city who heard Sir’s remarks started glaring at us.
I can feel some extraordinary killing intent in those gazes.
And it’s not just one or two of them. Pretty much everyone around us is staring daggers at Sir Vanir.
“Don’t do that, Vanir-san! Most of the residents in this city revere the Goddess Aqua-sama. If you say such strange stuff, they’ll really start picking on us!”
Yunyun hastily looked around, her face completely drained of blood as she repeatedly bowed.
Wait, didn’t she just say something really amazing just now?
“Hey, Yunyun, what did you just say?”
“Hmm, you mean what they’ll do? They’ll do some really amazing things! You can’t let your guard down even if it’s a child. They’ll do stuff like purposely not adding ice to your drinks, rearranging your shoes after you’ve taken them off, and giving you the only charred piece of meat when you order-”
“That’s some really petty acts of revenge! No, wait, that’s not it, didn’t you say something about worshipping the Goddess Aqua or something?”
“Ah, that. Most of the priests of the Axis Cult make their residence in this city, and most of the population are members of the Axis Cult.”
“Whaaat!? This city is full of people like Kazuma’s bothersome Axis Priest!? Hey, you knew about this before, right? Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
I’ve gotten involved with Axis cultists before, and there wasn’t a single proper one amongst them.
You’re telling me that this place is their headquarters?
As I drew near, Yunyun blushed and averted her gaze.
“Y-Your face is too close! Umm, well, about that… It felt like this trip would be cancelled if I told you about that in advance. It’s my first time traveling with so many people… even if we’re traveling to this city, I was still really looking forward to it…”
So she choose to come on this trip due to her loner personality, huh.
Ah, well, I’m directing my complaints at the wrong person. Plus, it’s encouraging to know that someone has survived after visiting this place.
“Oh, fine. This city might have a lot of Axis Cultists, but it’d be fine as long as we don’t get involved with them. The Axis priesthood might be full of strange people, but the average worshipper probably won’t be as bad.”
There’s no way everyone in this town is the likes of that Banquet Priest or that sinful priest I ran into back during that incident with Mitsurugi’s sword.
I’m a little concerned as to why Yunyun continued to avert her gaze, but there’s no way there’d be another person on that level.
An old lady approached us with a face full of smiles.
“Ara, are you people here to sightsee too?”
“Yeah, we are on the way to the inn…”
“Then take this with you. This is a discount coupon. If you write your name here, you can turn it in for various services at the inn!”
The piece of paper she presented to me has a line meant for my signature.
Everything else is covered by the old lady’s hands, so I can’t read it.
“Could you please move your hand? I can’t read what’s written on it.”
“Now, now, men shouldn’t care about stuff like that. Now, come on, write your name here.”
Such actions are quite reminiscent of the techniques that money loaners use when they want me to sign a document.
Don’t worry about the details, just sign on the dotted line.
It’s probably some kind of scheme to trick tourists into buying some expensive goods.
“Right, well, lend me a pen so I can write down my name.”
“Ah, sorry for not noticing. Here you go.”
Taking advantage of the instant when her attention was diverted, I pulled the piece of paper out from her hand.
The only things written on that piece of paper were simple terms for the discount. There isn’t anything particularly suspicious about it.
“What did you do that for? There’s nothing to it, right? Come on now, take this pen and sign here.”
My instincts are telling me that there is something suspicious about this old lady’s enthusiasm is getting me to sign.
Perhaps there is some nearly invisible small print on that piece of paper.. No, there doesn’t seem like there are any.
Could it really be just a simple discount coupon?
“Sorry for doubting you. Right here is fine, right?”
“Yes, right there. It might be a little hard for the ink to come out, so push strongly, yes, strongly on it when you write.”
She’s putting a lot of emphasis on that point.
Hmm… Isn’t this paper a little thick? Could it be…
I grabbed a corner of the paper and turned it over.
Another piece of paper is stuck to the underside of the discount coupon, which I peeled off.
Written on that are the words ‘Axis Cult recruitment form’.
“Fuck off! I ain’t signing that! That’s carbon paper, right!? I almost got tricked into the Axis Cult!”
“Oh, could you already be an Axis Cultist? You have the smell of a comrade on you.”
“Don’t lump me together with you! Go elsewhere! Shoo!”
I shoved my hand in her direction like I was chasing aware a stray dog.
To think that the first person I talked to upon entering this city would be a religious solicitor…
“You guys should be on your gua-”
“Oh my, has your skin gotten rougher lately? Give this a try! This is made out of all natural ingredients, without any trace of impurities that would damage your skin! Just rubbing it on your skin will make it flawless. It’s made out of water from the hot springs! The very same water that’s extremely effective when thrown at undeads and devils.”
“Hey there, you seem like a person overflowing with the aura of loneliness. Have you heard about this water? Drinking this will increase your luck with both friends and money. It’s said that it will easily attract lovers too.”
“Handsome masked man and the beautiful young lady over there, are you guys enjoying life? If there’s anything that is stressing you out or leaving you unsatisfied, why not join the Axis Cult? As long as it has nothing to do with undead or devils, the Axis cult will accept anything… Hmm? Something’s off about you two…”
I tried to warn them, but my companions were already surrounded by a crowd of people, pestering them to join their cult or trying to peddle some suspicious items.
The suspicious smile on the face of the man talking to Sir Vanir and Loli Succubus vanished and was replaced by a doubtful frown, and the bottom of Sir Vanir’s mouth twitched unpleasantly in response.
My other companions got caught up in the crowd that has formed around us and looked towards me with a pleading expression.
“You’re in the way, get lost! We ain’t joining the Axis Cult, so piss off! And stop selling stuff too! Don’t just bottle up the water from the hot springs and sell it!”
I yelled, but the crowd didn’t disperse at all.
Perhaps having somehow determined that she was the easiest target in our group, the crowd was unusually thick around Yunyun.
“Ah, I do want friends, but sorry, that’s a little… eh, if I join up, everyone in the cult will become my friend…”
“Don’t get recruited that easily! Hey, move!”
I grabbed Yunyun’s hand and pulled her out of the crowd.
Perhaps because it’s stuffy being surrounded by so many people, Yunyun’s face was flushed as she looked up at me.
“Thank you, Dust-san.”
“Seriously, don’t fall for that kind of recruitment pitch. You have the air of a pushover about you, so you need to be a little more firm.”
“Yeah, I suppose… Though, you’ll help me out just like this when I get in trouble, won’t you?”
Looking up at me with slightly damp eyes, Yunyun cheerfully laughed.
Seeing this sent shivers down my spine.
Normally you’d complain about sexual harassment or what not every time you see my face, so what’s with this gentle expression you’re showing me?
“You hatched some kind of scheme together with Lynn, didn’t you? What, are you going to start screaming about how hungry you are when we pass by a high class eatery and beg me to treat you? Or, what, are you angry about the money I begged of you to cover the tab at that roadside bar?”
“I don’t care about that. After all… aren’t we close?”
Saying that, Yunyun pushed her body onto my arm.
She might be a brat, but she’s pretty well developed, so when she presses her body against me like that…
“Hey, I’m not that easy to trick! This is way too good to be true! You learned about the effects of that marble from Sir, that’s why you’re putting on an act to mess with me, right!? Let’s hurry up and drop our luggage off at the inn!”
Untangling myself from Yunyun, I pushed my way out of the crowd of people and headed off to the inn.
After fending off waves of salesmen hawking flasks of bottled hot springs water and suspicious-looking gems, we met up with Taylor and Keith, who had their pockets stuffed full of Axis Cult recruitment forms, and finally reached the inn.
“Moi was prepared for this, but still, what an unpleasant city this is. There’s barely a shred of dark emotions amongst the residents, yet visitors to this town are overflowing with such. Moi can understand why even the Demon King himself doesn’t wish to get involved with this town.”
“Um, they say that bathing in the waters of the hot springs will make your skin flawless…”
Sir has been in a bad mood ever since he came to this city.
Loli Succubus on the other hand has been trying to get as close as she could to the hot springs without getting hurt. She’s been standing at the entrance to the hot springs ever since we reached the inn.
“Right, lets have some free time after dropping off the luggage. Is that fine with you, Sir?”
“That is fine. Moi shall tour the streets of this city. Perhaps moi shall play with the foolish townsfolk who worship that useless goddess.”
“O-Oh. Do try not to take it too far. I’ll go enjoy the hot springs. I’ll be using the mixed baths, of course!”
I boldly declared in a voice loud enough for everyone in the hall to hear.
If the marble actually worked and the girls weren’t just messing with me, they’ll definitely join me in the bath.
“Oh, the mixed baths, I see. Well, do as you wish, I’ll take my stuff up to my room.”
“Ah, I’ll go visit the rooms too.”
“See you later, Vanir-sama.”
The girls disappeared off to the rooms without any particular reaction.
See, I knew they were just messing with me.
The rooms are set up such that each room houses two people. Originally, Lynn and I were supposed to share the same room, but they ended up changing the room assignment after the straw drawing incident, so I ended up in the same room as Vanir.
After dropping off my luggage in my room, I changed into clothes more suitable for bathing before heading back down again.
In front of the baths were three entrances, one labeled men, one labeled mixed baths, and the third labeled women.
Of course, I walked into the mixed baths without hesitation.
“Well, not like there’d be any women in the mixed baths anyway.”
Despite saying that, I harboured a small smidgen of hope as I opened the door into the hot springs proper.
There was no one else there.
Well, it is in the middle of the day, after all. I suppose that’s to be expected.
“It’s almost like I reserved the entire place for myself. Well, I guess I’ll take my time and relax.”
After rinsing myself off, I submerged myself into the hot springs up to my shoulders and lazily gazed around through the steam.
A wooden wall could be seen at the edge of my vision. The only obstacle between the mixed bath and the women’s bath…
“Still, the easiest explanation for the strange behavior of those two today would be that the marble has taken effect, but no matter how I think of it, it’s way too suspicious. Sir Vanir pulling some strings to make me think that the marble has worked, only to pull the rug out from under me at the critical moment to bask in my dark emotions… To be honest, that is the most likely scenario.”
I know full well that the marble actually does work from last night, but they’ve long since come back to their senses.
Is it possible for the effects to linger?
“Well, who knows. I should’ve properly listened to what Sir had to say. Ah, well, it’s too late for that now.”
Going down this line of thought would just be a waste of time, so I pushed it to the back of my mind and swam over to the wooden wall.
I tried searching for a peephole or the like, but I couldn’t find any.
“Maybe I can at least overhear something.”
I pressed my ear against the wall, but I only received silence in return.
“I wonder if Lynn and the others will come in if I wait a while. Ah, if only I brought a knife or something, I could’ve made a hole myself.”
Just as I was mumbling that, I heard the sliding door to the bath clatter open.
It’s probably some dude or an old geezer, so I glanced over without much expectations, but…
The person that entered was Yunyun, wearing only a towel barely enough to cover her important bits.
“Ah, Dust-san, what a coincidence…”
I let out a strange squawk in my surprise.
It’s hard to make out her expression through the steam, but she seems to be glancing my way with a bashful expression. In any case, she doesn’t seem surprised at all.
Yeah, she really has a great figure… no, wait!
Just what the hell is going on!? This is going way too far for a prank!
Could it be, is she actually serious?
“Um, if it’s not too much trouble, c-can I join you?”
“A-Ah, sure, just do as you wish.”
Dammit, my voice is wavering from the excitement.
Haven’t I seen plenty of sexy ladies at the bar and the succubus shop?
The contents of the dreams that they show me are far more exciting than this, so why the hell am I getting so nervous?
After testing the temperature of the water with her toe, she slowly entered the pool.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her at all.
“Umm, well, err… Can I come over there?”
“Er, well, s-sure, why not?”
Yunyun slowly made her way closer through the rising clouds of steam.
Her figure became ever clearer, until it feels like I could just reach out and touch her.
The sound of me gulping resonated through my head.
“It’s a strange feeling, being this close to a naked man…”
Her skin was shining due to the moisture from the steam, and her face was blushing a bright red.
Looking up at me with wavering eyes, she let out a bashful giggle.
W-What should I do here? Is it proper to make a move here?
No, no, wait, she’s a kid. Why the hell am I getting excited about this?
“Err, uh, have you gotten better at interacting with others recently?”
“Not at all. The only person I can act this boldly towards is you… Dust-san.”
This is bad. The way she bashfully says such things is really making my heart skip a beat.
Not even the girls at the bar have said such things to me before.
Is it fine? Is it really fine? It’s only proper for a man to take the initiative here, right!?
No, shit, I need to clear my head. Keep calm, me, keep calm.
Just as I was desperately trying to calm myself down, the sliding door slid open again with a clatter.
Both Yunyun and I turned towards the entrance, and standing right there was Lynn, clad in nothing but a towel.
Meeting her murderous gaze, the lightheadedness that the hot springs and this situation bestowed upon me vanished in an instant.
“Why is Yunyun in the mixed bath?”
She said it in a soft voice. Shit, that’s the tone she only uses when she’s really angry.
“I-I’m free to enter the mixed baths when I want. Besides, didn’t you say you had no interest in the mixed bath, Lynn-san?”
“I just felt like it! I didn’t expect the two of you to be be here!”
Hearing the sharpness in her tone, Yunyun let out a frightened squeak.
This is bad… She’s really dangerous when she’s angry.
The number one survival trick for adventurers is to identify danger quickly and make a run for it.
Slowly, I distanced myself from Yunyun.
“Ah, are you two stealing a march on me!? No fair! I want my skin to become flawless too! I even resolved myself to brave the steam to come here!”
Loli Succubus burst through the doorway without even a towel to cover her up.
However, for some reason, her important bits are covered up by steam, so I couldn’t get a good look. Dammit, what the hell is up with that?
This is getting complicated.
It would seem like the textbook definition of a harem, but it was completely different from what I imagined.
“You girls just recently got to know him, right? I’m the one here who’s been with him the longest!”
“T-That has no relevance to this! In the romance novels I’ve read, the one who’s been with the male lead the longest frequently loses!”
“I’m the one who is most familiar with Dust-san’s preferences!”
The three of them were clinging on to me as they argued.
It’s hard for me to believe this dreamlike development actually took place, but it seems like those three actually fell for me.
Thank you, Sir Vanir!
There’s only one thing I can do in such a situation.
“Come, now, let’s not fight over me. Why don’t we all just get into the bath together? For now, Yunyun can take my left hand, Loli Su-Sa can take my right hand, and Lynn can take the one that’s lef-”
“You can shut up!”
The three of them scolded me at the same time.
I could only watch as their argument heated up even more.
“Oh screw it, now that it’s come to this, we’ll just have to settle this through brawn. I’ll make Dust mine even if I have to blow you two away!”
“Don’t look down on me! I’m the one who will be the future chief of the Crimson Demon clan! Do you really think you can best me!?”
“I’ll put you all to sleep!”
Everyone’s preparing to cast magic.
Crap, this is bad. If I don’t find a way to calm them down…!
I dashed over to the washing area and splashed a basin of cold water upon them.
“Kya, it’s cold!”
“W-What are you doing, Dust…-san…”
“Ouch, it hurts! Why is my body growing numb?”
I think Loli Succubus is overreacting a little, but it seems like everyone’s calmed down a little at least.
They were looking at me with a slowly stiffening gaze. Is the water too cold, I wonder?
Still, it looks like I’d be able to get through to them like this.
“Okay, okay, I understand how you feel about me. Why don’t we take turns in thirty minute intervals, starting with Lynn?”
I proposed a compromise with a smile on my face.
And the response I got was
Before being pelted by a barrage of magic from the three of them.
“Ah, looking up at the sky while taking a bath feels really great.”
The sun shone brilliantly on this cloudless day.
My entire body hurts, but I have to be thankful to even be alive right now.
“So you’ve fallen this far. Your dark emotions are delicious indeed.”
Hearing Sir’s voice, I turned towards it and saw the tuxedo clad form standing on a platform at the edge of the hot springs.
“What exactly happened, sir? They were under the effects of the marble, right?”
“Up until just now, at least. If a small amount of smoke is inhaled, the effects will gradually express themselves, and the duration of the effect will also be increased.”
That’s why they only started acting strangely in the morning, unlike Taylor and Keith.
If only I knew about that from the start, I could’ve enjoyed a lot of different scenarios.
“Ah, dammit, what a waste.”
“Still, weren’t your desires granted?”
“Well, yeah, I did end up in a mixed bath, but please, Sir, stop telling me stuff in such a vague manner and properly explain things!”
“But that wouldn’t be interesting at all. In order to obtain such fine dark emotions, it’s best to present a vague idea of the future.”
Sir Vanir seems to have taken great delight in my dark emotions.
Well, it’s my fault for getting tricked in the first place. Getting angry at Sir would just be being a sore loser.
“Well, I guess it’s time for me to turn in.”
“By the way, the girls who ended up falling for you still remember exactly what happened when they were under the influence of that magic item. They must be overcome by embarrassment right now.”
“Seriously? Oh, give me a break…”
It feels like I’d be enduring far harsher treatment than I’ve ever experienced for the next few days.
Just imagining it gives me the chills.
I think I’ll just stay here and warm up for a while.
“Oh dammit, I got my expectations up because someone’s already here, but it’s just Dust.”
“Hey, Dust, Lynn and the others were blushing bright red in the hallway earlier. Do you know anything about that?”
Looks like Keith and Taylor have decided to join me.
Sir Vanir had vanished before I realized it.
“Who knows? Maybe there was a peeping tom or something?”
I flippantly replied, and they looked at me with a suspicious gaze.
Yeah, they totally suspect me.
“Don’t take it too far now. The residents here are a little, well, but the hot springs are quite exceptional.”
“Phew~ Yeah, it’s a city of weirdos, but the hot springs are amazing.”
After soaking into the pool, the two of them gazed up at the sky.
Seeing their naked bodies brought back memories from last night, and I vigorously shook my head to get that image out of it.
“Well, it’s a pity there aren’t any women here, but this isn’t too bad.”
“Yeah, it’s more relaxing to be amongst men. I don’t think I’ll care for women for a while.”
The other two gave me a strange look after I said that.
Did I say something odd?
“Hey, what’s wrong? Did you catch some kind of weird disease? You should take an early night today.”
“To think that you of all people would say that… Don’t push yourself if you aren’t feeling well, you hear?”
They seem genuinely worried about me.
Normally I’d be getting angry right now, but after getting into the hot springs, I don’t really care about such trifles.
Plus, they are genuinely concerned for my wellbeing.
“Yeah, seems like what you really ought to have are male friends.”