Spreading the Devil’s whispers together with that cultist
Editing: Ulti, Xenthur
I took a light nap after getting out from the hot springs, and by the time I woke up, it’s gotten dark out.
I couldn’t see Sir in the room anywhere, so I decided to head out in search of food.
There’s a dining room on the first floor of the inn, but it’s best to avoid seeing them for now, so I’ll search for another restaurant.
As I was heading towards the main street, I saw a single woman walking towards me.
“Oh, she has a pretty good body. Maybe I should hit on… Nah, forget it. I’ve had enough of women for a while.”
Normally I would call out to her, but after everything I’ve gone through, I don’t feel like making a move right now.
Just as we were about to pass each other, the woman tripped on something and the contents of her shopping basket spilled out on the floor.
“Kyaa! What should I do!? The apples that I bought…”
Just as I nonchalantly helped the panicked woman pick up the fallen apples, she suddenly put down her shopping basket on the roadside and grasped my hand.
“Thank you very much! You really saved me! I wonder if there’s anything I can do to thank you…”
She’s keeping a really tight grip on my hand.
Wait, this tactic…
“There’s a cafe operated by the Axis Cult just a short while ahead. Would you mind having a chat with me there?”
“I knew it! This is another one of those recruitment scams!”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m really good at fortune telling. I wouldn’t mind telling your fortune for free…”
As I tried to leave, the woman grabbed onto my clothes and refused to let go.
This girl’s surprisingly strong. I’m using quite a bit of strength to pry her away from me, but she isn’t budging an inch!
“Oh, I can see your fortune now! I foresee great troubles with women in your future! But don’t worry. Everything will work out fine if you join the Axis Cult!”
“I already have great troubles with women! Seriously, let go! If you keep at it, don’t blame me for fondling your boobs!”
“Say, what are you doing?”
The one who called out to me as I was struggling with the woman was the female thief, Chris.
“Oh, my, what a pitiful chest you have. But don’t worry, it’s fine. The Axis Cult preaches to love all regardless of the size of their chests, so why not join the Axis Cult?”
“You sure say some really rude things… Unfortunately, I’m already a member of the Eris Church.”
Chris bitterly smiled and showed her Eris Church pendant to the woman.
The bright smile on the woman’s face instantly vanished, to be replaced with an expression that made her seem like she just bit into something incredibly bitter.
She spat on the ground, picked up her shopping basket, and quickly walked away.
Chris and I were too dumbfounded to do anything but stare at her back.
After taking a few steps, she briefly stopped, spat on the ground once more, and continued on her way.
“I’ve heard the rumours, but the headquarters of the Axis Cult really can’t be taken lightly…”
“Yeah. I’ve really underestimated the Axis Cult… Still, you’re finally here. The girls are back in the inn.”
“Ah, I see. What were you doing out here alone?”
“It’s a little awkward to meet them right now, so I thought I’d go elsewhere to get a meal.”
“That means you’re free, right? In that case, come with me. It’s tough being an Eris Cultist in this city, so I’d like an escort. Come on, I’ll treat you to a meal.”
I had no reason to refuse. It’s not like I have a lot of money in my wallet right now.
Plus, having an Eris Cultist around might prove to be a good shield against the residents of this town.
As I was wandering around with Chris,
A woman whom I’ve never met before approached me, claiming to be a distant relative of mine before trying to recruit me.
A man tried to lead me to a building that’s unmistakably a church with the line “It’s free, so why not come take a look at my art exhibition?”
A genuine looking priest claiming to see the figure of a devil on my shoulder and offered to exorcise it.
“Hey, what the hell is wrong with this town!? Isn’t it odd that a young girl like that would ask you to sign an Axis Cult recruitment form!?”
“Even I was taken aback by that. To think that a girl so young would be so devious. Perhaps it’s best to just wipe this city from the map entirely?”
Chris, who was one step away from falling for that girl’s act, said while holding her head in her hands.
I finally understand why Kazuma would give those vouchers to me. It’s not something you want to experience again.
It’s really bothersome to deal with the members of the Axis Cult, so after a while, whenever they would approach us, I would immediately point towards Chris and go,
“Sorry, she’s an Eris Cultist.”
Afterwards, they would spit on the ground, throw stones at her, or scream, “Eris pads her chest!” before immediately leaving, which made our journey far easier. Having her around is really convenient.
“This isn’t senpai’s fault, this isn’t senpai’s fault…”
Chris has started muttering some incomprehensible things as we moved along. Seems like she’s suffered quite a bit of mental trauma from this.
Despite that, we still resolutely trudged on to our destination.
The reason we encountered more Axis Cultists as we proceeded is because our destination is close to the church that served as the Axis Cult’s headquarters.
Walking right into the church would be akin to committing suicide, but fortunately, we had no business there.
Next to the church is a beautiful lake that is the source of much of the city’s water. But that isn’t our destination either.
Our destination is the large mountain behind the church where the source of the city’s hot springs is located.
“Say, what business do you have with the mountain exactly?”
“Well, I accepted a little quest to investigate the abilities of the hot springs.”
“Abilities? Oh, yeah, the cultists were saying something about it making your skin flawless, or it being extremely effective against devils and undead and other such crazy things.”
“I came here to investigate that.”
The stuff they say are mixed with lies, so it’d be useless to simply ask around about it.
If that’s the contents of the quest, then there’s no choice but to investigate it yourself. Well, as long as I can get a small portion of the reward and a meal out of it, I have no complaints.
Two knightly looking men are standing on the road leading to the source.
Well, it’s the lifeblood for this city, so I suppose it’s only natural for there to be guards.
“Excuse me, I’d like to pass through.”
“Sorry, but I can’t let you pass without permission. A lot of unpleasant events happened around here in the past, so things are a little stricter now.”
The two knights averted their gaze and let out a huge sigh.
I’m kinda curious as to what happened.
“A General of the Demon King’s army tried to corrupt the source of the hot springs, but a band of adventurers who happened to be recuperating here took him out. However… apparently, the source got purified by the Archpriest, so now all it pumps out is plain hot water.”
“Well, that certainly sounds horrible.”
If the hot springs of a hot springs town turns into simple hot water, there’d be no point to its existence.
Wait, hold on a minute, weren’t there a lot of tourists in the city? If anything, it seems to be thriving right now.
“But, for some reason, a rumour started spreading around that taking a bath in the waters will heal your wounds and repel undead and devils, so more people started visiting than ever before.”
“They even say that the water from the springs will purify undead and devils when it’s splashed on them.”
What kind of hot springs is that?
Rather than hot springs, isn’t it more similar to-
“It really is holy water.”
Seems like Chris had the same line of thought. She had her arms crossed and appeared deep in thought about something.
I was wondering why someone would make a request to investigate the hot springs. So that’s the reason.
“Say, is there really no way you can let us through? I just want to investigate the source for a while.”
“Sorry, but those are the rules. Speaking of which, a masked man came around a short while ago asking about how the Deadly Slime of the Demon King’s army is doing. Is he an acquaintance of yours?”
That’d be Sir Vanir, right? What was he doing all the way out here?
“That sounds like someone I know. Did he say anything else?”
“He was mumbling something that sounds like ‘covering for that incompetent shopkeeper’ and ‘any evidence left behind.'”
Seems like Sir had another reason to visit. I’m a little curious about it, but my instincts tell me that it’s best not to pry too deeply into Sir’s matters.
Leaving that matter aside, the problem right now is what to do with this hard-headed knight. Simply talking to them probably wouldn’t work.
Well, they’re probably Axis Cultists too. I’ll just weave a lie to make use of that.
“Hey, come on, aren’t we both Axis Cultists? Can’t you just look the other way just his once-”
Saying that, I pressed a couple of items into the knight’s hand.
“Don’t think you can just bribe your way through… Hey, this is just Axis recruitment forms and hot spring manju! Besides, we’re both Eris worshippers!”
So bribing them with the free stuff I got from the inn wouldn’t work, huh?
“There’s no way we can entrust people from the Axis Cult to guard an important facility like this!”
Well, that certainly is true.
This job is a perfect match for that serious and stuck up Eris Church.
“So you’re an Eris worshipper too. Sorry to request something impossible from you.”
Chris bowed deeply to the knights, flashing her pendant in the process.
As she did so, the knight’s expressions immediately softened. That’s really effective.
“So you were an Eris worshipper after all. I knew it, you have the same air as we do.”
“Ahh, it’s almost like my prayers have been answered.”
“Ahaha, is that so?”
Chris let out a shy laughter as the trio commenced smalltalk.
Being uninvolved with the conversation, I lazily looked upon the night city to pass time. After a short while, Chris seemed to have wrapped up the conversation on their end, and heartily waved at the knights as she made her way back to me.
“To think that even in this town, there are proper Eris Cultists hard at work. It makes me kind of happy.”
“Well, if the Axis Cult was in charge of everything, this entire city would fall to ruin. Anyway, what about the investigation?”
“Ah, that’s fine. I just got the details out of them, so I’m satisfied.”
“So that’s quest complete, right? Then hurry up and treat me to a meal!”
“Ah, sure, sure, I promised, after all. Let’s head to a restaurant, then.”
I returned back to town along with a strangely happy Chris and entered a restaurant with a terrace.
The menu is overflowing and the price is reasonable too. This seems like a pretty good place.
The staff brought the food we ordered to the table, and we heartily devoured anything that looked decent.
“Oh, yes, esteemed Eris Cultist, this is a special service from our store.”
“Oh, so there’s a special service for Eris Cultists. I should’ve joined when I had the chance.”
Chris still had her pendant out from when she was talking with the knights, so it seemed like the waitress noticed that.
This is probably one of the few stores in town run by Eris worshippers.
With a smile, the waitress left a pair of soft, bowl shaped items on the table.
Chris’s expression immediately turned frigid upon seeing those items, and her clenched fist trembled.
“Aren’t those things pads?”
Knowing that she’s an Eris Cultist, and further noticing her small chests, they choose to present her with this to tease her.
You really can’t underestimate the Axis Cult.
After that incident, I decided that it’d be best to take the depressed Chris back to the inn.
On the way back, I overheard a bunch of drunk Axis Cultists talking loudly over something or the other.
“Aqua-sama is the best, but, to tell the truth, Eris-sama has a certain charm about her.”
“You heretic, what are you saying!? But, I’ll admit that the way she smiles and her chest in that portrait of her is quite charming. I want to bury my face in that bountiful chest!”
“You get it, don’t you? Yeah, it’s a different sort of charm than Aqua-sama’s. How should I put this, she gives off an open minded, pure, heroine-like feeling. I want to become friends with Aqua-sama, but I want to make Eris-sama my wife, sorta?”
“Yeah, that’s it! That’s exactly it!”
Those drunkards started getting excited.
Is it really fine to want to be friends with your goddess?
Though, I guess the carefree Axis Cult will probably be fine with that.
“Why are you blushing?”
“Eh? No, it’s nothing!”
Chris frantically waved her arms around to cover up her embarrassment.
It seems like she’s happy that her goddess has received praise.
“I wonder what Goddess Aqua is like. After running into so many of her followers, I’m really curious as to what kind of person she herself is. I really want to meet her at least once.”
“You’ve already met her countless times…”
“Did you say something?”
The way she responded piqued my curiosity a little, but I’m not really in the mood to interrogate someone right now, so I won’t pry.
On the other side of the street, the drunks continued their conversation.
“Still, those breasts are stuffed, aren’t they?”
“So I’ve heard. I don’t mind petite chests myself, but fake breasts are a little pathetic, aren’t they?”
Chris’s shoulders suddenly stiffened..
Well, she’s an Eris worshipper. It’s only natural for her to react this way if her goddess is being made fun of.
Still, Goddess Eris definitely wore pads.
“I’m heading to bed…”
“Oh, right. Um, well, I think I prefer Goddess Eris to Goddess Aqua.”
“Ha ha… Thank you.”
I tried to offer some encouragement to Chris as we arrived at the inn.
Eris worshippers really shouldn’t visit this town.
I could sense a vague feeling of discomfort from the Eris worshipping knights too.
“Well, I guess it doesn’t matter to me.”
My belly is quite full thanks to Chris’s treat, so I guess I’ll go to sleep.
After jumping into bed, I forgot all about the troubles of the Axis Cult and Chris’s depressed mood and fell into a deep sleep.
… Just then, I was awoken by a sharp rapping on the door.
It still seems to be quite late at night, judging from what I could see outside my window. Sir Vanir hasn’t returned yet, so don’t tell me he forgot the keys or something?
“Is that Sir? I’ll unlock the door right now.”
After unlocking the door and opening it, I came face to face with Yunyun.
She was staring at the floor and fiddling with her fingers.
… She must have come here to lecture me after that incident in the hot springs.
“I’m sorry about what happened in the mixed baths, but you were the ones who made the first move.”
Well, that was because of the magic item, but she shouldn’t know anything about that.
“I-I understand that. But it’s strange. I became really assertive for some reason and saw Dust-san in a much better light. It’s like some kind of strange illusion or something…”
“W-Well, did you drink too much sake or something?”
“I don’t recall drinking anything, but perhaps I did by mistake.”
She tilted her head. It feels like I’d be able to fool her like this.
“The staff probably gave you sake instead of juice and you didn’t notice because you were too excited. That’s probably it.”
“That’s… probably it. Umm, please forget about the mixed bath incident. I didn’t mean anything I said, so please forget about it!”
Yunyun’s face was so red that it wouldn’t be surprising if steam were to start pouring out of her cheeks.
She’s probably worried about the fact that I saw her half naked.
“Oh, I already forgot about that. Don’t worry too much about it. Still, I kind of liked that bold side of you.”
“You didn’t forget at all!”
She screamed as she started beating against my chest.
Well, it took a bit of effort, but eventually I managed to calm her down and sent her back to her room.
She might look like that, but she’s still a kid, so I shouldn’t tease her too about such matters.
Thinking to catch a good long nap this time, I crawled into my bed and pulled the blanket up to my shoulders.
“Just what’s wrong with the citizens of this city!?”
I woke up to the sound of Sir Vanir’s angry declaration.
“What’s got you so riled up this early in the morning, Sir?”
“It’s already noon, lustful delinquent. The Axis Cult is truly beyond help. Despite telling their priests about the habits of that layabout goddess, instead of losing faith, they simply went ‘that sounds like Aqua-sama alright!’ One must conclude that they are all shot in the head!”
“There are a lot of points I want to pick apart, but have you met that goddess before, Sir?”
“We meet extremely frequently! She often visits the store to kill time without any invitation on my part. But enough about that. Moi cannot rest easy without dealing a blow to the irritating residents of this city!”
It’s really rare for Sir Vanir to get this worked up.
… No, that’s not strictly true. He gets worked up in much the same way whenever the beautiful shopkeeper purchases some useless goods and rakes in the bills.
And is Sir Vanir mixing up the self-proclaimed goddess and the actual goddess of the Axis Cult?
The one who comes to the store to play around is Kazuma’s party priest.
“The length of this stay is until the day after tomorrow, yes? Perhaps I should secure her assistance and turn this city upside down! Moi shall turn this city into a wonderful place overflowing with negative emotions! Fuhahahaha!”
Sir seemed to be getting really excited as he muttered to himself, so I quietly left the room and descended to the first floor.
Apart from Chris, all the other members of my party were gathered downstairs by the table, and every single one of them seemed exhausted.
“Dammit, here I thought I finally got popular…”
“I’m not taking another step out of this inn. This is a city of demons…”
Keith’s and Taylor’s pockets were stuffed to the brim with Axis Cult recruitment forms. I really don’t need to ask what happened.
“They’ve gotten way worse than the last time I came here… though the methods they’re using seem familiar somehow…”
The comparatively energetic Yunyun appears to be deep in thought about something.
She’s the only one of us who’s been in this city before, so she should’ve built up some immunity, but somehow, she seems to be the one most vulnerable to the Axis Cult’s antics out of all of us.
“I want to go back to the store… The Axis Cult is scary… I’ll be heading back to the room…”
A pale faced Loli Succubus hugged herself tightly as she ascended the stairs.
Seems like she’s suffered the worst damage out of all of us. Come to think of it, I’ve heard that ever since the hot springs became holy water, even the steam would cause damage to low ranking devils like succubi upon contact.
A high ranking devil like Sir Vanir seems to be unaffected, though.
“Dust, do you think we should cut our stay short and head back earlier?”
Lynn seems quite exhausted too.
In a certain sense, it’s great that everyone’s too exhausted to mention the mixed bathing incident, but judging from how things are going, it might really be best to cut this trip short.
I’m a little concerned for how Loli Succubus is holding up too.
“Yeah, alright. This isn’t really a place that you should linger-”
“Hold on a minute!”
The person who interrupted me was a fairly cheerful Chris, her depressed demeanour from the previous day nowhere to be found.
After rushing over to our table, she slammed her hand against it with a loud bang.
“There’s something I’d like your help on! Don’t you think that it’d be bad if this city remains as it is!?”
Yunyun appeared surprised by Chris’s appearance. It seems like they knew each other from before.
The others were also taken aback by Chris’s enthusiasm, their gazes squarely focused on her.
I have a bad feeling about this, but I can at least hear her out.
“I just can’t take when Eris Cultists are being looked down upon like this. I would like everyone to help me think of a method to raise the standing of the Eris Church in this city. It’s definitely not because I’m angry over the pads!”
She probably thought of this after talking with those two knights yesterday. She wants to do something for those devoted worshippers of Eris. Well, it’s not like I can’t understand where she’s coming from, but I really don’t want to get involved with the Axis Cult.
“Say, Dust, she’s the thief that occasionally hangs out around Kazuma, right?”
As Chris continued with her passionate speech, the rest of us huddled into a small corner and started discussing in hushed tones.
“Yeah, her name is Chris. Apparently, she’s an Eris worshipper. After suffering at the hands of the city’s residents yesterday, she ended up like this.”
“I do sympathise with her, but I think it’d be best not to get involved with the Axis Cult… raise your hands if you agree with me.”
At Lynn’s words, everyone except Chris, who was off in her own world, raised their hands.
“That said, they caused a lot of trouble for us, so I do kind of want to get back at them. At least a little.”
“I get where you’re coming from.”
Keith mused, and Taylor agreed with him.
“Chris-san is part of our group, so I really want to help her, but…”
Yunyun doesn’t seem to hold much enthusiasm for the prospect, huh.
Lynn seems to be of a similar mind.
There’s no particular benefit for us if we were to help out. In this situation, we should just nod along to whatever she says.
I’m sure she’ll calm down after voicing her complaints.
“Recently, there’ve been a lot of books with erotic pictures circulating around in Axel, and from what I’ve heard, that is also the work of the Axis Cult…”
Wait, she’s talking about the books I found in the dungeon, right?
My friends are of course aware of that, and their gaze naturally fell upon me.
“When the Eris Church confronted the Axis Cult about this, they replied with, ‘This isn’t our work, but these books are most wonderful indeed! Actually, why don’t you tell us exactly what about this book is obscene?’ and other such sexually harassing words. The original plan was to cooperate with the police to search their church under the charge of distributing obscene materials, but…”
If they seriously investigate that, it’d be very quickly made clear that I was the one who sold those books.
Isn’t this really bad?
“Ah, right, I’ll return the money we got from selling that treasure to you, Dust.”
“I’ll return it too.”
“In that case, I shall return it too.”
“Hey, don’t try to distance yourselves from this, you assholes!”
“Eh? Eh? What are you talking about?”
Yunyun appeared completely lost, but that’s only to be expected, so I ignored her.
Still, at this rate, I’m going to end up in trouble with the cops again.
I don’t really mind that, but it’d really hurt if the proceeds I got from selling that treasure were to be confiscated too.
I’ll have to cooperate with Chris here and have the Eris Church owe me a favour.
“Right, I got it, we’ll lend you a hand. Let’s have the Axis Cult in this town cry uncle. You guys want to see that too, right?”
My friends seem to understand what I’m going for, and silently nodded in agreement.
Yunyun seemed completely confused by this turn of events, but, lacking the courage to refuse, she simply went with the flow and nodded.
This trip was originally meant to be a relaxing trip to help Keith and Taylor recover, but it ended up piling more stress upon all of us.
After causing so much trouble for us, it wouldn’t be right to just leave without repaying it in kind.
“Really!? Thank you!”
Looking at Chris’s sparkling eyes and wide smile, an interesting idea floated to my mind.
I thought she seemed familiar when I first saw her, and now I finally understand what that’s all about.
“I thought of a really great idea. If things go well, the Eris church might even get more worshippers out of it!”
I didn’t have enough materials on hand to put my idea into practice, so right now I’m on a trip out to procure the items.
I’m pretty sure it was in this direction…
“By the way, why are you here?”
“I’d be worried if it was just you alone…”
For some reason, Yunyun was next to me.
She was fidgeting about while staring resolutely at the ground.
Could it be that she was still concerned about what happened in the mixed baths?
“You saw my naked body too, so aren’t we even? I don’t mind stripping right here if you’re unsatisfied.”
“Please, enough about that! Don’t make me remember it!”
Hmm, guess that wasn’t it.
I was pretty sure she was still hung up about that incident.
In that case, why is she following me?
“I’m just going out to borrow the necessary materials.”
“Is that so. Umm, err, the weather is great, isn’t it?”
Hearing that, I gazed towards the sky. True enough, it’s a cloudless day. That said, I have no idea where this is heading.
Looking back down again, I noticed that Yunyun has shifted even closer to me.
On closer inspection, she really is slowly closing the distance between us.
“Say, what exactly are you doing?”
“Fwueh! I-I’m not doing anything!”
Yunyun’s hands started waving around at a truly tremendous speed as she said that.
She seemed to be embarrassed, but in that case, why did she approach me in the first place?
Could she still be under the effects of that magic item… no, that’s unlikely. It’s a type of spell, so with Yunyun’s strong magic powers, she should be more resistant to its effects and thus have a much faster recovery rate.
That means she must be doing this of her own free will.
Yeah, I don’t get it at all.
“Anyway, where are we headed?”
“Ah, I need to visit the theatre for a bit.”
“A theatre? It’d be nice if there are any interesting plays on the schedule. I wonder if there are any romance-”
“Er, I’m not going there to catch a show, you know?”
I’m getting a bad feeling from her strange responses, but I guess it doesn’t really matter right now. As long as it doesn’t get in the way, I’ll leave it be.
“Ah, there’s a really trendy looking cafe over here!”
“You want me to treat you? What, do you really think that there’s that much money in my wallet?”
“Dust-san really is a good-for-nothing…”
Even if you say that, it’s not like money will just materialize in my pocket.
Ignoring the cafe, we continued on before coming to a stop at a roadside store.
“Dust-san! Dust-san! They have some really cute stuffed animals on sale!”
I frowned upon looking at the price tag of the stuffed animal that Yunyun was holding.
It’s several times the value I usually pay for my drinks.
“Geh, is this really worth that much? Hey, can’t you cut the price a little? Say, by about fifty percent?”
“Sorry, but this is the lowest I can go.”
“N-No, wait, this is embarrassing, please stop! I’m so, so sorry!”
Just as I started haggling with the storekeeper, Yunyun forced her way between us and dragged me off.
“Mou! You shouldn’t cause trouble for the shopkeeper like that!”
“I only haggled with him for a lower price because you seemed really taken with that.”
We ran into several other shops selling souvenirs and accessories and the like, but I ignored Yunyun who was making a fuss, and eventually arrived at the theatre.
“I didn’t manage to do anything that felt like…”
“What are you talking about?”
It’s really creepy to mutter while standing next to someone.
She seems to be really worked up today for some reason.
“Nevermind. It doesn’t matter anymore…”
Yunyun heaved a sigh and started heading back by herself.
That was really odd of her. Oh well, I should hurry up and do what I came here for.
“It’s a little late, but I wonder if we’ll suffer divine punishment for doing this…”
“You were right on board with this plan until just now. Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. Eris-sama looks like a kind woman, so I’m sure she’ll laugh it off.”
Lynn was looking at Chris with a worried expression.
Chris herself had a stiff smile on her face as she sat upon the chair.
Between the make-up and the regal clothing she has, Chris really is the splitting image of Goddess Eris. More so than even I expected.
I was only with her for a short while, so I can’t remember all of the specifics, but this certainly felt right.
I always thought she looked familiar, but once you hide that scar with makeup and put her in the right clothing, she really does look like the genuine article.
“It feels like I just went through something similar recently…”
She had a troubled expression as she scratched her cheek, but she seemed to swallow her doubts after being told it’s for the sake of the Eris Church.
“Dust, where did you get these clothes from? They look just like the clothes Goddess Eris wears in her portraits, but I’m surprised you managed to find such clothes here.”
“There’s a popular play on show at the theatre where Goddess Eris keeps messing up and has to be bailed out by her senpai Goddess Aqua. I borrowed the clothes from that set.”
“Eh, isn’t that reversed…”
Chris had an expression like she just bit into something sour.
It seems that wasn’t something a worshipper of Eris could accept.
“It’s not like we are appropriating her likeness to cheat people or anything. People dressed up as her during the Eris Thanksgiving festival, so this is just more of the same. If you dress up as Eris and walk around performing good deeds, I’m sure the reputation of the Eris Church would go up a bit.”
“Still, isn’t it suicide to walk around in the Axis Cult’s home base in this outfit?”
No one responded to Keith’s comment.
This is a city that gives horrible treatment just for being an Eris worshipper. It’s hard to imagine them taking this lying down.
“Hey, say something! Am I being sent off to die!?”
“They… probably won’t kill you… probably”
“Look at me while you’re saying that! Why is everyone looking away!?”
I thought of this plan after remembering the rumours I’ve heard about the recent Eris Thanksgiving festival.
I wasn’t there myself, but apparently, the actual goddess appeared in the flesh at the Miss Eris beauty contest.
Rumours of that incident has spread all over the world, so it would seem more plausible if she were to appear in this town too. That was the idea, at least.
“Even if they are Axis Cultists, I’m sure they wouldn’t do anything reckless to a possible goddess.”
“Yeah, even if it’s the Axis Cult.”
My companions nodded along, almost as if they are trying to convince themselves.
“But, if they realized that it was a fake…”
In response to Yunyun’s ponderings, everyone, once again, fell silent.
It’d be risky even if the actual goddess Eris were to set foot in this city, so if they found out she was a fake, then, well…
“You’ll probably be ganged up on and chased out of the city.”
“It’d be fine if it stopped there, but there are residents of this city who treat picking on Eris worshipers as their life’s purpose, so…”
Yunyun has the most experience with this town, so her words bear a certain amount of weight.
I’ve only been here for two days, but from what I’ve experienced, what she says isn’t all that far-fetched.
“Hey, this is all just putting me more on edge! Maybe we should call it off? I do want to raise the standing of the Eris Church, but this method is definitely a mistake!”
“Should we think about another method?”
Everyone seemed relieved when I suggested that.
Well, that’s good and all, but I can’t really think of any other method…
“A devil has appeared! It seems like he’s insulting Aqua-sama by the fountain square!”
Just when I thought it was getting noisy at the inn downstairs, Chris, still dressed up as Eris, ran out the door.
“W-Wait, hold on, don’t go outside wearing that!”
“Chris-san!? No, don’t, it’s dangerous!”
The rest of us chased after her in a panic.
I’ve heard that the Eris Church hates devils as much as the Axis Cult, but I didn’t expect her to forget about us and rush out while wearing that outfit.
There are a few people who definitely wanted to cause trouble for Chris after seeing her in that outfit, but with her bloodlusted glare, she completely failed to notice them.
In front of the fountain was a wooden platform that wasn’t there yesterday, and standing on top of it were Sir Vanir and Loli Succubus.
Sir Vanir was standing proudly as he stared down at the crowd of citizens that had formed around the stage. In contrast, Loli Succubus was trembling as she clung onto Sir Vanir’s sleeve.
What the hell are those two doing? It’ll become a really big deal if people found out that there are devils in this city.
“That looks like the maskthat assistant-kun has? It feels weird somehow, but I can’t quite tell in this form.”
Chris’s mask of rage was replaced by an expression of bewilderment upon laying eyes on Sir.
I couldn’t follow what she said at all, but it seems like she’s calmed down a little.
Sir Vanir seems calm, but the crowd surrounding him seemed just about ready to leap onto the stage.
“A blasphemous priest claiming to be Aqua-sama appeared here not long ago, and now a devilish man is here spreading insults about Aqua-sama!”
“Fuhahaha! Oh, foolish people who believe in that foolish goddess, you’ve done well to answer my calls. Ah, I used foolish twice there, how shameful of me.”
Sir Vanir let out another hearty laugh as he placed a hand on his forehead.
Doesn’t look like he has lost his touch at riling people up.
“Moi is merely spreading the truth to the foolish and incompetent masses. Instead of being angry, should you not be thankful instead?”
“What the hell are you saying!? That mask does seem a little cool, but don’t think you’ll get away after making fun of Aqua-sama!”
“How dare you make fun of Aqua-sama, you damned devil!”
“Does thou really worship that embodiment of sloth and incompetence as a goddess!? She does nothing but cause trouble for the Eris Church, get drunk and cause trouble for the guild staff in her revelry, and is only acknowledged for her party tricks!”
Sir Vanir seems to be working himself up into quite a fervor, but isn’t that referring to the non-goddess Aqua?
Just when I thought that the crowd was strangely serious for once, they nodded along to his words and let out a cry.
“Isn’t that the best!?”
What the hell are they saying…
“It’s just as written in the teachings of the Axis Cult. ‘Regardless of whether you restrain yourself and work seriously or live without worries, one never knows what will come tomorrow. Thus, instead of worrying about the uncertain future, one should focus on living a comfortable present!'”
“Yes, that’s exactly it. Do you not know about the doctrines of the Axis Cult? ‘If you are worried about something, simply enjoy yourself in the present. Don’t restrain yourself, simply follow your true desires!’ I review this every night!”
“Seriously, this is why you’re a greenhorn. ‘There is no need to restrain yourself, drink when you feel like drinking, and eat when you feel like eating, for there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to drink and eat tomorrow.’ Make sure you write this down!”
The people who seemed to be the priests of the Axis Cult shot back to Sir Vanir.
Still, what’s with these doctrines? They really strike a cord in my heart.
Maybe the Axis Cult isn’t too bad.
“That’s just like how you live your life, isn’t it? That’s why people mistake you for a member of the Axis Cult.”
“… Am I really that bad?”
Everyone silently nodded.
I thought back to the behavior of the Axis Cultists I encountered in this city. Am I really on the same level?
As I was thinking it through, Sir Vanir and the crowd continued their bickering.
“Masked man, you speak like you’ve met with Aqua-sama personally, but there’ve been no rumours that Aqua-sama has descended to this world. Though, there was an imposter who took her name not too long ago.”
The crowd nodded in agreement with that woman’s screams.
… Hmm? Why are the priests all averting their gazes?
“Hmph, you merely do not know of it. The Goddess Aqua is… No, revealing that carries the risk of making them more conceited. Very well, foolish cult that idolizes and imitates a fool, listen well. Have you heard of the rumour of the Goddess Eris having descended in the town of Axel?”
The crowd became agitated upon hearing Sir’s words.
“Yeah, I’ve heard of it. She appeared at the thanksgiving festival or something like that.”
“The Eris Church was boasting so much about it.”
Seems like that story has spread to this town as well.
The plan that I thought of might’ve actually worked out.
“What a load of crock… Thought if it were Aqua-sama, it might be believable.”
“It’s Aqua-sama, after all.”
“Aqua-sama seems like the sort of person who would do this.”
And they believed it so easily!
Though, if we’re talking about the goddess who’d spread such doctrines, that does sound quite plausible.
“Before coming here, moi truly believed that the Axis Cult is a collection of irrevocable fools, but moi has reflected on that. From the outside, they seem like a collection of optimistic slackers, but what is hiding beneath is a burning spirit that seeks true freedom. After witnessing that, moi truly is touched!”
Loli Succubus’s jaw dropped in shock upon hearing Sir Vanir’s declaration.
I never expected that a devil like him would sympathize with the Axis Cult. Did breathing in the water vapours from the hot springs do something to him?
… No, he’s planning something. I haven’t known him for that long, but I at least know that much.
“Ah, so you finally understand the beauty of the Axis Cult. That makes us comrades. Let those comments be water under the bridge.”
A member of the crowd said that, and smiles started appearing amongst them.
It’s almost as if the murderous atmosphere from before was but a mere illusion.
The Axis Culistst are surprisingly naive, aren’t they?
“Moi originally planned on striking it rich by selling these photobooks of the descended goddess Aqua that moi took in secret at a high price, but now that you gentlemen are my comrades, perhaps I should sell them for heavy discount!”
Saying that, he opened the lid of the wooden box that lay on the platform together with Loli Succubus.
Ah, so that’s it. After starting a frenzy with that declaration, he intends to sell them for an exorbitant price while claiming it to be a discount. Sir is a quite a schemer.
“Photos of Aqua-sama!? I’ll buy them! I’ll definitely buy them!”
Loli Succubus was thrown into a panic by the sudden murderous air that descended upon the gathered worshippers.
Nevermind selling them, at this rate, it’s more likely for a riot to happen.
I unhesitantly dived onto the platform and put myself between Loli Succubus and the crowd.
“Hey, come on, calm down! You won’t be able to buy them unless you line up properly. Hey, Sir, you’re understaffed, right? I’ll lend you a hand.”
“How enterprising of you. Very well, moi shall offer you ten percent of the profits.”
“It’s a deal!”
Seems like we understood each other with just a glance.
Both of us could barely hide our smiles.
“You guys help out too! You’re a friend of Sir, right, Yunyun?”
“Eh, ah, yes!”
We arranged the photobooks on the long table and started selling them to the rush of Axis Cultists.
Chris, still dressed as Goddess Eris, seemed to finally realize how out of place she is and made to return to the inn.
The photobooks were handed over one after another.
“Dammit, I can’t look inside like this! Does anyone have a pair of scissors or a needle or something?”
The photobooks were tightly bound with ribbons to prevent them from browsing through their contents, so the crowd were frantically searching for a way cut through them.
An adventurer looking fellow used his shortsword to cut through the ribbon, and immediately started flipping through the pages.
“What the hell is this!?”
Not long afterwards, he let out a scream that echoed throughout the plaza.
Attracted by the commotion, the crowd gathered around him and stiffened upon witnessing it’s contents.
“This page too! And this one! What is the meaning of this!?”
The photobook was flung to the ground in front of me, its pages flapping in the breeze.
What’s inside wasn’t photos of Goddess Aqua, but-
“Too bad, it’s a photo collection of moi! Fuhahahaha!”
Photos of Sir, half naked in various poses.
Murderous gazes shot at us from every direction, but Sir seemed to pay it no heed and let out a grandiose laugh.
“What wonderful dark emotions! The dark emotions of those who worship her are quite something indeed! Fuhahaha! Yes, it’s most wonderful!”
“Vanir-sama! Vanir-sama! Now’s not the time to laugh!”
A trembling Loli Succubus screamed at Sir Vanir through her tear streaked face.
Well, that’s only natural. She’s surrounded by a crowd of murderous Axis Cultists, after all.
“Capture them! Toss them into the hot springs for three days and three nights while they can hear our scriptures!”
“Don’t let them get away!”
Sir Vanir tossed Loli Succubus away from him moments before disappearing beneath a pile of bodies as the murderous crowd swarmed over him.
“I got him! Hmm? Doesn’t he feel strangely light?”
I could barely make out the voices of Sir Vanir and Loli Succubus amidst the noise of the crowd.
From the sounds of it, Sir Vanir managed to avoid capture, but I couldn’t make out any details through the mass of bodies.
“S-Say, aren’t we in danger too?”
A frightened Lynn pulled on my sleeve.
“Now that you mention it…”
It’s only natural to assume that we are in cahoots with Sir Vanir after helping him sell those books. That means, their next target would be…
The members of the crowd who became frustrated with Vanir’s repeated escapes turned their gaze over to us.
That is not a pleasant gaze. I don’t even want to think about what would happen if they caught us.
“Capture his companions too!”
“Retreat! Run for it! Your life will be over if you get caught!”
I quickly broke for it, followed by my companions. Behind them, the Axis Cultists surged after us like a massive human wave.
Things will really be over if they catch you. Seeing that sight made me certain of it.
As we were desperately running down the street, we caught up to Chris who was slowly plodding along ahead of us.
“Goddess Eris is over there!”
I decided to make use of that.
“So the Dark Goddess Eris was behind all of this! I’ll never forgive you!”
Looks like the hostility that was directed at us was successfully transfered to “Goddess Eris”, aka Chris.
Chris took one look at the oncoming rush of people and immediately took off running.
“What!? What is going on!?”
“You don’t want to know what they’ll do to you! Just run for it!”
“I don’t get it at all! Why are the Axis Cultists chasing me!?”
Chris asked me a few questions as she ran alongside me, but I couldn’t spare the energy to respond.
The stamina and speed of the cultists aren’t normal. Even the children and old men are keeping pace. It must be because of the support magic that the Priests provided.
“At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before we get caught! Let’s split up!”
“Right! Let’s do it!”
After hearing everyone’s voices of agreement, we split up along a three way intersection, and I followed the path that Yunyun was taking.
I’ve heard that Yunyun was familiar with the top priest of the Axis Cult.
If I’m together with her, I might be able to get off lightly if we get caught… probably.
Plus, I might be able to use the fact that she’s a Crimson Demon to scare them and get away that way.
Perhaps because of her loner talent, I was the only one who choose the same path that Yunyun did.
I’m a little concerned about the guys who went down the other path, but Chris is a devout Eris worshipper. If they seek help from those knights, they’ll probably offer them shelter too.
… Still, Keith and Taylor are still recovering, aren’t they? Well, I should at least try and lure most of them into following me.
“I’ll make good use of the money you gave us, so rest easy!”
“You bastard! I’ll fucking kill you!”
Judging from the response, it seems like I was able to draw a large portion of them my way.
“If worse comes to worse, I’ll be relying on you, Yunyun!”
“S-Sure… is what you expected me to say, but too bad! It is moi!”
Sir Vanir shed the appearance of Yunyun as he was running.
My legs almost stopped in response, but I somehow managed to keep going.
Hearing the sound of footsteps intensifying behind me, I turned around.
After sighting the presence of Sir, it seems like every single one of the Axis Cultists turned around to chase after me.
“The Blasphemer is over there! Give me back my money, you bastard!”
The angry screams of the crowd mixed with the sound of their rapid footsteps.
… If I’m caught now, I might actually die.
“You’re kidding me, right! What are you doing, Sir!?”
“Moi merely wishes to experience as much delicious dark emotions as possible. By doing this, I’ll be able to experience both the dark emotions of the fastest runner and the feelings of those foolish worshipers for as long as possible! It’s a most devilish idea indeed!”
If I wasn’t involved, I might have been impressed by this.
Still, now isn’t the time to complain.
If I lose my breath here and get caught by them, I get the feeling that my life might really end.
“It’s like all I’ve been doing recently is running!”
“Haa….A person can really do some really amazing deeds when their life is on the line.”
After having lost them by running across half the town, I stuck my head out from the alley I was hiding in to check if any of them are close by.
Looks like I managed to shake them off completely.
“Right, now I just need to meet up with Keith and the others and bid farewell to this city.”
“You’re going back?”
“HYAAAaaa… oh, it’s Yunyun. Don’t scare me like that, I think I just lost ten years of my life.”
Feeling something tap on my back, I whirled around to see Yunyun’s face staring back at me.
“It’s the real deal this time, right… How did it go on your end? Did you guys make it out okay?”
“Yeah, we got away really easily after you lured all of them away. Um, thank you very much.”
I was the one who got her into this mess, so it feels kind of awkward to have her thanking me like that.
In order to wipe out this feeling of guilt a little…
“Hey Yunyun, here.”
I handed over the stuffed toy that I bought on the way back from the theatre.
With it’s mouth hanging agape like a fool, the expression on the plushie mirrored the one Yunyun gave me after receiving it.
“Eh? This is…”
“That Explosion girl’s been getting on well with Kazuma lately, and you were acting strangely because you were competing with her, right? You probably wanted to boast about having gone on a date to make her jealous, but the only male friend you know is me, am I right?”
“Uck, y-you knew?”
It’s pretty obvious, after all.
“You might be able to stand up to her better if you have a present you got from a man.”
I remembered the conversation that Yunyun had with the Explosion girl in the guild before we left, so I bought the plushie with the last of my money.
Because of monetary issues, it’s a little smaller than the one she wanted, but it looks similar at least.
“I’ll forget about the mixed bathing incident, then! You have a pretty good side after all!”
“Yeah, yeah, thanks.”
Looking at Yunyun happily hug the plushie, I patted my empty wallet.
Yeah, guess it was worth it after all.