A Single Stab for that Destructive Weapon
Editing: Ulti, Xenthur
“I’m never going back to that city!”
I declared in the carriage, but, other than briefly turning in my direction, my tired-looking companions paid me no heed.
After spending an entire night running across the city, we finally managed to shake off the cultists, meet up, and left the city on a carriage.
After getting out of that costume, Chris said that she had business elsewhere, so she took a separate route back.
The people in my carriage were my regular party: Keith, Taylor, and Lynn. Everyone else was in the other carriage.
… It seemed like they were dead tired due to exhaustion, just like us.
“Seriously, it was horrible back there. It really was too good to be true.”
“It’s not my fault, Kazuma was the one who gave those vouchers to me! Don’t forget that!”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. We weren’t blaming you or anything, were we?”
I was a little irritated at Lynn’s condescending manner, but I didn’t really have the energy to argue with her right now, so I simply slumped into my chair.
It could be said that Sir Vanir was to blame for this turn of events, but he gave us quite a considerable sum from the money he conned from the Axis Cultists, so we decided not to push that issue.
Yunyun was the only one to refuse the money, and in fact gave Sir a serious lecture. Despite how shy she usually is, she has times where she stamps her foot down too.
This incident felt really perilous at times, but there is a silver lining that I need to thank Sir Vanir for. After all, this pushed the incident at the mixed baths out of everyone’s minds.
I expected them to pursue me about that and other such unpleasantness, but no one brought up the subject at all. On this point at least, I’m really indebted to him.
“Haa… I really want to get back to Axel and drink some sake…”
“I want to take a long nap in a bed.”
Personally, I just want to take it easy.
As I was thinking about that, nodding off to the soft rumbling of the carriage, the voice of the driver reached my ears.
“Customer, we’re at the Axel gates.”
Opening the window to take a peek, I could see the walls of Axel stretching out before me.
As expected of a wall recently rebuilt after a certain someone washed them away, the damaged portions now looked brand new.
“That wall was made with the money that Kazuma provided, right?”
“It sounds impressive when you put it that way. Well, a member of his party was the one who damaged them in the first place.”
Lynn, leaning out the same window as me, said with an impressed note in her voice.
The fact that she didn’t say anything even though our bodies were touching meant that she doesn’t care about that incident in the mixed baths anymore, right?
“Hmm? Say, aren’t the gatekeepers acting kind of strange?”
Following Lynn’s gaze, I noticed that the gatekeepers, who would usually closely check anyone passing through the gates, were simply letting people pass without talking to them.
“They look really listless. Usually they’d stop and accuse me of bringing in suspicious items or the like on sight.”
“That’s because you keep causing them trouble. Did you forget about the time you caught a one strike rabbit and tried to bring it into the city to be sold as an exotic pet? You really raised a huge fuss back then.”
“Those guys were really hard-headed. The rabbit would’ve sold for a lot of money too.”
“If they had let you bring it through, you’d have surely have been arrested after it ran amuck and harmed someone… nevermind that, there’s definitely something odd with the gatekeepers.”
They were letting everyone through without bothering to check them, so there wasn’t much of a line. Very soon, it was our turn.
Normally, they’d take a quick look inside the carriage to check for any wanted criminals or dangerous items, but this time…
“Go on ahead. Sigh…”
They let us through without even looking at us.
It’s certainly convenient from my perspective, but even public enemy number one could get through the gates like this.
“Hey, shouldn’t you be taking your jobs a little more seriously?”
I, uncharastically for once, let my true thoughts slip out to the gatekeeper, and he glanced at me before letting out another sigh.
“Who cares about that… I want to go back and sleep…”
“I can understand that sentiment, but come on, do your job properly.”
“I want to hire a maid that will do anything I say and sleep the day away…”
I thought he might be the only one that’s odd, but it seems like everyone at the gatehouse shared his lack of enthusiasm.
There’s a guard taking a snooze while leaning against the gate, and there’s even one who’s lying on the grass outside, a dazed expression on his face as he gazed up at the sky.
“T-That’s a strange sight. Even the gatekeeper who was concerned for my well being when I brought Megumin back is…”
“It kind of resembles what happens when a person’s vitality has been drained, but it’s kind of off…”
“Truly, something strange is happening here.”
It seems like Sir Vanir and the others also found the situation odd and got out of their carriage to catch up with us.
After thanking the carriage driver, we got off from the carriage ourselves and entered the town of Axel.
I had a bad feeling about this, and the conditions inside the town weren’t much better.
There were people sitting around on the corners of the street, and some of them were even laying down and sleeping.
Most of the stores were closed, and even the ones that were open had no activity at all, with the storekeepers sitting outside, listlessly basking in the sun.
“It’s like I stepped into some sort of strange dream. Could this be a serious crisis…”
“U-Um, I’m worried about Megumin, so I’ll go check on the mansion! Please excuse me!”
Yunyun dashed away in the direction of Kazuma’s house.
“I’m worried about the store too, so I’ll be going on ahead!”
After bowing several times to Sir Vanir, Loli Succubus also left the party.
“Moi am worried about my store too. We won’t be able to sell anything like this.”
And Sir Vanir casually walked away in the direction of his store.
The rest of us huddled together to discuss our next course of action.
“Shall we go to the adventurer’s guild to check on things?”
“Yeah, that makes sense. If it really is an incident, they might be planning some sort of countermeasure too.”
As we headed over to the guild, all I could see were people either sitting or lying down on the side of the streets.
The guild itself was almost empty; the only people present were the guild staff, with nary a hint of any of the adventurers who were usually present.
As for the guild staff themselves, they were simply lazing around with their upper bodies draped over the counter.
And amongst them, with her check pressed against the top of the counter as she rested, was Luna.
None of the others looked like they would even acknowledge us, so my group and I walked over to her.
“Hey, what’s going on? Is the entire town like this?”
“Ah, is that Dust-san? Well, I wonder…”
Luna’s eyes were half closed as she lazily responded.
It’s almost hard to believe that she’s the same Luna who busted her ass off working for the adventurer’s guild every day.
“Hey, really, what happened to you?”
Lynn grabbed Luna’s shoulders and shook her, and Luna didn’t seem to put up any resistance at all.
“Hold on a second, Lynn, wouldn’t it be fine for me to fondle her breasts now?”
“Of course not! Why is everyone so drained!? It’s almost like… Hmm? Hey, Dust, doesn’t this feel like what happened to Keith and Taylor?”
“Now that you mention it, it does seem like how you two were acting after returning from that dungeon.”
They had the exact same symptoms that Keith and Taylor had after we found the porn books at that dungeon.
Though, from the confused look on their faces, it seems like they had very few memories from that time.
“That means it might be related to that dungeon somehow. Do you guys remember anything?”
“Well, the moment I stepped into that room, it felt like a massive wave of fatigue crashed over me, to the point where it was too bothersome to even think.”
“Yeah, yeah, everything was so tiresome. I wanted to do nothing more than sleep and eat all day.”
If it’s the same as them, there’s a decent chance that everyone in town will go back to normal after a couple of days.
That means there’s no need to panic.
“Hmm… Is it really the same as what happened to Taylor and Keith? Say, Luna-san, when did this start happening?”
“Weeell… People started skipping work starting three days ago, perhaps… my body feels much heavier today than the day before… the doctors say it isn’t an illness, but… Ah, I want to become a housewife and get pampered by an amazing husband…”
She started talking about something else halfway through.
Still, if you think about it, isn’t what she just said really bad?
“That means that the symptoms steadily get worse. It happened almost instantly with Taylor and Keith.”
“Isn’t this really bad? If everyone gradually became this way, isn’t there a chance that we’ll end up the same way too?”
I felt my blood rush as I looked around me.
Now isn’t the time to be taking it easy.
“W-What should we do!? We didn’t bring back some kind of weird disease from that dungeon, did we?”
“Well, it seems logical to think that, but the way the symptoms gradually set in is quite different from what happened to us, isn’t it?”
“One more thing, if you guys really did catch some weird disease in the dungeon, then why weren’t Lynn and I affected? Isn’t it odd? We were the ones who spent the most time in contact with you.”
I can’t figure it out at all.
There’s too little information. I need to investigate this situation more.
“Let’s split up and gather information. We’ll meet up here later.”
Everyone nodded and ran in their separate directions.
When these sorts of troublesome things happen, chances are that Kazuma and co are at the center of it all.
With that in mind, I headed over in the direction of that mansion.
He wasn’t home.
Instead, I ran into the suspicious individual sneaking around outside of Kazuma’s mansion – Yunyun.
“Come on, at least visit your friend’s house properly.”
“But-but, I didn’t manage to get a souvenir for Megumin even after boasting so much about my hot springs trip, so she would probably be angry…”
“Now’s not the time for those kinds of considerations. Anyway, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s home. Do you know of anyone else we could rely upon?”
I checked up on the familiar general store on the way, but it wasn’t open.
I also briefly checked in on the police station, and all of the police officers were lazing around like the rest of the townsfolk.
The thought that I could commit all the crimes I wanted right now briefly crossed my mind. Well, I won’t do that though… No, really, I won’t do that.
“Oh, I know, how about we pay a visit to the Magic Item shop? Vanir-san might know more about this phenomenon.”
Yunyun slammed a fist into her palm, her eyes sparkling.
Well, it wouldn’t be unusual if Sir does know the reason for this. With those all-seeing eyes of his, he might be able to come up with a good plan to resolve this too.
“Still, all Sir does recently is get us involved with his evil machinations. He might offer us a solution, but it’s also likely that he might trick us again.”
“But that only happened because you tried to get involved in his business. It’s something you brought upon yourself, right?”
“Right, let’s go consult with Sir. Come on, what are you spacing out for? Let’s go.”
“Seriously, that personality of yours…”
Despite her complains, Yunyun still ended up following me.
After entering the magic store, I spotted the ashen form of the shopkeeper sprawled in the corner.
And off by the shelves was Sir Vanir, paying no heed to the storekeeper as he organized the items.
“What happened this time, Sir?”
“Listen and be amazed. She fell for a scam while I was out. Someone claimed that moi caused some sort of incident while moi was on a trip and delivered a request for reparations, and she actually believed it and happily handed over the money.”
“Ah, that’s a pretty typical scam.”
It’s a trick that’s gotten really popular recently. Your friend or acquaintance caused a lot of damage while out on a trip, so compensate us for the damages.
It’s simple, but effective. The police have even issued warnings to be on guard for these types of claims.
“It absolutely is. If moi was in that situation, moi would be absolutely thankful for a way to legitimately dispose of the shopkeeper. ‘Just do whatever you wish with her, moi cares not.’ and that’d be the end of it. Why in the world would she pay up? Truly, this baffles me.”
“T-That’s because Vanir-san is important to her. She blindly believed the other party’s words because of her concern…”
“Moi has not fallen so far that moi’d require this incompetent shopkeeper to be concerned about me. Were it not for the money made through the photobook sales, we’d now be living a pauper’s lifestyle!”
Sir seemed a little happy when he said that, but that’s probably my imagination.
Sir is very particular when it comes to money, after all.
“Now then, what business does the possible homosexual and the master of loneliness have with me?”
“Please don’t call me that!”
“Master of Loneliness… that kind of sounds cool…”
Leaving the strangely happy Yunyun aside…
“Sir, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the town is in an extremely unusual situation. I thought you might know of a way to fix this or at least the cause of this situation.”
“Hmph, it seems like their vitality… no, it’s more accurate to say their motivation has been lost. After losing their energy, they’ll grow lazy and lethargic and end up just like this.”
“Just like I suspected. Say, a couple of my companions ended up in the same state some time ago. I was wondering if there’s a relation between that and what’s happening now.”
“That’s an interesting story. Do share more details.”
After relaying what happened in that dungeon to Sir, he placed his hand on his chin and fell deep into thought.
“There must be something in that room. Moi can’t say if it’s a pathogen or a magic item, or something else altogether, but that is undoubtedly the cause of this situation.”
“I-I think so too.”
“Yeah, of course. That means there’s no choice but to investigate that dungeon once more.”
“You should make haste if you are to do that. The Devil that sees through all so declares, if things remain as they are, the citizens of this town will eventually lose the will to eat and wither away.”
At those words, Yunyun and I exchanged glances.
“I-Isn’t that a huge problem!?”
“If it ever gets out that we were the cause of that, we’d never be able to clear our names! Let’s hurry up and gather anyone who seems like they’d still be of use and head over!”
Now that I’ve got the relevant information, I need to make haste back to the guild to meet up with the others and get ready for the trip.
I don’t know how many people are left that’d be able to aid us in this task. In the worst case scenario, we might have to manage it with just us five.
“Ah, why don’t you lend us a hand, Sir!?”
“Moi refuses. Moi needs to track down the con man who swindled the money and approach him under the guise of this incompetent shopkeeper. Moi shall tell him that he can do whatever he wants if he returns the money, and once he accepts, moi shall reveal my disguise and bask in his dark emotions.”
“… My condolences for that con man. Still, thanks for the info.”
Seems like it’s impossible to expect any more aid from Sir Vanir.
Right, now to meet up with my companions!
“So that was the cause after all. In that case, it’s only proper for us to do something about it.”
“Yeah, you’ve got to clean up after yourself.”
“It’s troublesome, but we need to do this.”
All my companions agree on going back to that dungeon.
“I-I don’t know how much help I’ll be, but I’ll go with you.”
It’s a great help that Yunyun’s willing to help us. She has the highest combat ability out of all of us, after all.
“If Yunyun-san isn’t of much help, I don’t know how useful I’ll be, but…”
Loli Succubus will be participating too.
It seems like the succubus shop was in a similar state, though in their case, losing both their motivation and the vitality from adventurers is pretty tough on the succubi.
I could really indulge myself if I went to the succubus store right now… It’s a real pity that we don’t have the time to spare.
Despite our best efforts at finding people for this mission, the final tally only came up to the six of us.
I ran around town searching for companions, but there wasn’t a single person who could move normally amongst the people I’m acquainted with.
The only people who weren’t in a lethargic state were people who recently moved into town, and it seems like you’ll end up in that state after spending just a day here.
“If only Kazuma and his party were around, but oh well. We’ll just have to manage.”
“This entire situation was caused by us, after all. Let’s set off quickly!”
After gathering the minimum necessities required for the journey, we soon left the town of Axel.
Since speed is of the essence, we explained the situation to the carriage driver that we just used, after which he gladly offered us the use of his carriage.
At this rate, we’ll arrive at the dungeon in less than half a day.
“Can you guys really not recall anything about what happened in that room?”
There’s no way to think up any detailed plans without knowing what we’re dealing with, so I tried to pump Keith and Taylor for more information, but…
“Well, see, now that I think back to it, there didn’t seem to be anything special in that room. I just suddenly felt really lethargic upon entering it. There didn’t seem to be any reason for that.”
“I just… Didn’t care about anything after entering that room, so I don’t really recall much about it.”
“Please, it’d be a big problem if we don’t know anything about that part. We have no idea what’s waiting for us.”
“Well, it’s something that drains energy from humans, so it could be the work of a devil.”
“It could be the work of a magic item too. There was someone back at the Crimson Demon village who was researching if creating such an item was possible.”
The ideas that Loli Succubus and Yunyun raised are distinct possibilities.
There are devils like Sir Vanir who feed off the dark emotions of people, and there are also ones like the succubi who feed off vitality, so it wouldn’t be strange if there existed a similar devil that feeds off motivation.
As for magic items, I fully experienced how dreadful they could be from that magic bead incident. It wouldn’t be strange at all for there to be one or two magic items that could drain a person’s motivation.
“Both of them are possible. It’s best to be on guard for both possibilities.”
We saw quite a few monsters along the road, but they simply laid around in the sun.
Thanks to that, we arrived at the entrance of the dungeon without fighting a single battle.
“Alright guys, you’ve had time to prepare yourselves. Let’s get in there!”
And all the replies I got were listless.
Taken aback by the almost 180 degree reversal from just moments earlier, I turned around to see my companions sighing with drooped shoulders and downtrodden faces.
“H-Hey, don’t tell me you guys…”
“Say, is there really a need to go into the dungeon? It’d probably be fine if we just let it run its course.”
“Yeah, I’d rather take a nice long afternoon nap. There looks like a good spot.”
Keith and Taylor put down their weapons and sat down on the ground, and started lazily eating their travel rations that they retrieved from their bags.
“Hey, what are you guys doing!? We were just about to delve into a dungeon!”
“Eh, who cares about that. Why don’t we trade some dirty jokes instead?”
“It’s fine, we can do that after a little nap.”
Keith is just a little lazier than he usually is, but it’s definitely weird for Taylor to act this much like a spoilt child.
There’s no way a stiff and inflexible fool like him would say such words.
“Lynn, say something too!”
“Do we really have to do this? It’s so much trouble… I would rather not if we don’t have to…”
Lynn’s reply caught me totally off guard.
I turned around to look at her, and it seemed like she was just barely standing as she tried her hardest to stifle a yawn.
“Dust-san, my body feels really lethargic. Something is really off…”
Yunyun roughly shook her head to keep her eyes from closing. It seemed like she was really struggling to keep awake.
“I can feel their vitality being drained away. Keith and Taylor went through similar experiences before, so it could be that they are more susceptible to it… *yawn*…”
So that’s why they seemed worse off than everyone else.
Though, from the looks of it, it’s only a matter of time. It won’t be long before everyone else ends up lazing around too.
Looks like we just have to give up on Keith and Taylor.
“Right, let’s charge right in! Don’t think of anything unnecessary, just focus on advancing!”
And cut it out with those lethargic reponses.
“Dust, leave me. I’ll just slow you down.”
“There’s no way I can just abandon you!”
Ignoring Lynn who said such noble-sounding words with a smile, I offered her my right shoulder as I continued trudging onwards.
“You don’t have to worry about me… I’ll read a book here and wait.”
“There’s no need to force yourself, Dust-san, just leave me here and go on ahead…”
Yunyun was attached to my back with a short length of rope, and I tightly held onto Loli Succubus with my left arm.
Despite the feeble words that the three of them offered, I continued trudging on. There’s no way I’d abandon them here.
“You guys just want to slack off, don’t you!? Why do I have to work this hard for you!?”
That room was just a short distance away, but as we started getting close, these guys started refusing to walk and clamouring for a break or some such, so I had no choice but to forcibly drag them along like this.
“Why don’t we all take a nap together? I might even let you join if you agree right now.”
“I-It’s a little embarrassing, but I’ll bear with it.”
“I’ll give you an amazing dream free of charge~”
“Shut up! Stop tempting me with such amazing offers! You’re making me want to dive right in!”
I really want to drop everything and take a nap with them, but in this situation, it’s possible that it’d be the last thing I ever do.
“Why are you the only one who’s energetic…”
“Yeah, usually, Dust-san would be the first to talk about skipping work.”
“Don’t tell me it’s because you already lack motivation, so getting a bit of your motivation sucked out wouldn’t make a huge difference?”
Dammit, these girls sure like to shoot their mouths off.
Still, now that they mention it, why am I the only one unaffected?
Sure, I do think that delving into this dungeon is a chore. I really want to go back to Axel and kick back with a glass of sake.
That’s what I genuinely think, but it’s just the same as what I usually think, so it’s not like anything’s changed.
“Seriously, it’s only just a short while ahead, so please hang in there. What will I do if it’s something I can’t handle by myself?”
They didn’t even bother to respond.
This isn’t working. Would it really be best to leave them here and head on ahead by myself?
The monsters we encountered in this dungeon were all laying around in a stupor, so they shouldn’t be in any danger…
“But there’s still a chance… Ahh, how troublesome.”
Despite all three of them pulling on me, I eventually arrived in front of that room.
“Pant pant D-Damn, I’m tired. Hey, we’re here.”
“Five more years-” x3
“Stop fooling around and wake up already!”
I dropped everyone who was taking a nap while clinging onto me on the floor, but none of them showed any signs of waking up.
I opened the door and started dragging the three of them in.
Despite that, there was still no response..
“Dammit, guess I really need to leave them here.”
I left them in the room that appeared to be the residence of the owner of this dungeon.
I can’t really investigate with them in that state.
“Every single one of them has such happy faces…”
I wanted to voice my complaints at them, but those words died on my lips when I looked at the carefree faces of the three of them as they slept.
After a brief search, I pressed the switch that opens the hidden door, and warily proceeded into the area beyond.
The two doors greeted me on my entrance. Last time, I investigated the left door and ended up getting the treasure. Keith and Taylor took the right door, right?
I pressed my ears against the right door, but couldn’t hear anything.
I twisted the doorknob and slowly opened the door. It’s fairly dark inside, but not to the point that I couldn’t make our my surroundings. There’s a faint light coming from the ceiling, bright enough for me to make out that this room feels very lived in.
“It’s just like the other room. Chair, table, bed. There’s trash strewn around here, so perhaps it’s someone’s residence?”
I cautiously stepped foot into the room. There doesn’t seem to be any place in here large enough to hide a person, but it’s best to be careful.
There are a lot of unknown items strewn around the area.
There is a small flat plate with glass stuck to one side. There’s a palm-sized cross attached to a thick black cord, and also round items with a small protrusion on them. I have no idea what those things are.
“The hell is this?”
Looking through the piles of garbage, I noticed one thing.
There are a lot of food containers amongst them.
There are empty preserved food wrappers and also bags from the recently popular bakery in town. That means that this place was in use until fairly recently. Plus, with the amount of garbage here, there’s a chance that there’s more than one person involved.
Moving onto the desk, I discovered a diary hidden in one of the drawers. Hoping for there to be some clue hidden within, I started reading it.
“- X day Y month, my secret hideout is finally done. I’m sick of telling them that it’s impossible over and over. This will be my sanctuary. I’ve even managed to recreate manga from Japan, so I’ll slack off here to my heart’s content.”
It seems to be the diary of the guy who made this dungeon and those erotic books.
There might be something in it regarding what is happening in Axel right now. I continued flipping the pages.
“- X day Y month, I managed to divert funds to work on this project, but the scale model is starting to take shape. I think I’ll be able to fool them with that. The problem is the core. I need to keep them from realizing that this is the primary purpose. Sucking motivation out of people and turning it into energy seems like ridiculous garbage at first glance, but it seems surprisingly doable. It’s worth looking into.”
Yeah, this guy is definitely behind what’s happening in Axel right now.
Are there any pages that go into more detail?
“- X day Y month. Dammit, I can’t slack off at all! The number of times I’ve managed to visit this hideout has been greatly reduced too! But I won’t give up. It’s only a short while till that project is complete. I funded it with the money I diverted from the mobile weapon program. I haven’t tried activating it yet, but it’s almost done. Once it’s activated, it should suck out the motivation from anyone nearby and turn them lethargic. Then I won’t need to work on that stupid project any longer. I’ll make it a palm-sized sphere so it can be easily hidden. Ah, I can’t wait for it to be completed.”
I think I can see where this is going.
I’m a little concerned as to what happens next, so let’s keep reading.
“- X day Y month. I’ve found a fatal flaw during the startup experiment. Once activated, it will suck my motivation away as well, so I won’t be able to enjoy games or manga afterwards. I’ll have to set it up such that the activator and those close to him won’t be affected. For the sake of safety, I’ll set it up such that it will automatically cease operation when the activator moves a certain distance away. I’ll make it such that the person who first activates it won’t be affected even if another person uses it. Then, the first time it’s activated, its effects should be weak, and its effects and range will steadily increase the second time it’s activated… The mobile weapon project is almost complete. I’m never working again when it’s done! I’ll activate this and take a long term vacation!”
“So it really was the writer of this diary who’s behind this…”
The pages after this entry were blank.
Now that I look closely, there are traces of pages getting ripped out, and the remaining piece had the words “Instructions manual” written on it.
Did this man meet his end without activating that magic item? The words mobile weapon piqued my interest, but right now I need to do something about this situation.
From what the diary says, this situation is the result of that magic item getting activated.
A spherical magic item, huh?
“Sphere… Hmm? It sounds familiar…”
It feels like I’m forgetting something, but I can’t quite place my finger on it, so let’s leave it aside for now.
There wasn’t anything else interesting in the room, so I took the diary with me and left.
There’s a high chance that something is currently making its residence here and is just out for the moment. Alternatively there could be another hidden room in here.
I placed my ear against the other door, and this time I heard a voice.
“No… great… can’t get enough… so hot….”
The voice is muffled through the door, but it sounds like there’s multiple people in there.
What are they doing in there? That room is… Don’t tell me…
Slowly opening the door to minimise the amount of noise created, I saw three men, their backs turned to me, in the room. They were way too engrossed in reading their books to notice my entrance.
“I just wanted to lay low until the heat died off, but we’ve really stumbled on the jackpot this time!”
“Yeah, boss. There’s a whole ton of the kinds of treasures that we are looking for out here. The eyes on these pictures are a little bigger than I’d like, but that’s but a small matter.”
“Our luck has really been on the downturn ever since we got beaten up by that delinquent adventurer, but to think that we’d make such a fortunate discovery! It’s probably due to this charm, isn’t it?”
One of the three took out something from within his cloak, but I couldn’t see it from this angle.
I think I’ve heard their voices somewhere before…
“Ever since we got our hands on that, the monsters don’t bother us, and they weren’t suspicious of me at all when I went out to procure food from Axel.”
“Even though we made an enemy of the Adventurer’s guild, they didn’t react to us at all when we got near. Maybe it really is thanks to this ball. I should rub it for good luck.”
The man the other one called boss, and also the one with the best physique amongst them, took a ball into his palm and started playing around with it.
…Isn’t that the spherical object I found when I first entered this room?
That’s the item I threw away after pressing the button on the top, right?
That means that Taylor and Keith ended up lethargic because I activated it the first time, and Lynn was unaffected because she was next to me.
Then these guys activated it, but it didn’t affect me because I activated it once before. It all makes sense now.
“Wait, if the diary is to be trusted, isn’t this really bad?”
If the strength and area of effect of the item is increased when it’s activated for the second time, doesn’t that mean that this is also partially my fault?
… I’ll dispose of that diary later.
After passing that ball amongst themselves, the men went back to reading their books.
Judging from what I’ve heard, these guys are criminals, so there’s no problems if I launch a surprise attack them and take them out.
Standing on tiptoes, I snuck into the room.
All three of them seem to be mumbling amongst themselves.
As I drew closer, I could clearly make out what they were saying.
“These pictures are really cute. Their eyes and mouths are a little too big, but I really like how young they look.”
“It’s nice, isn’t it? I can’t read the words, but I can get the general idea. This one looks to be a housewife, but no matter how I look at it, she can’t be beyond her teens. This is the best!”
“But erotic stuff is a no go. Lolis should be admired from afar but not touched, don’t you remember that?”
“Y-Yeah, only the very lowest of scum would lay a hand on a young girl.”
These guys seems to just be reading books without erotic content, but I think they are hiding erotic books behind their backs.
And, I know I’ve heard those painful words somewhere before.
These guys are that lolicon group who tried to kidnap Lynn some time ago and got beaten up by me!
“That expression where they look up towards you with tearful eyes are the best!”
“No no, it’s obviously best when they are smiling! The smile of a girl is worth far more than any amount of gold or gemstones!”
“That’s why you’re both still amateurs! Girls are cute no matter what they are doing!”
“Boss! We’ll follow you to the ends of the earth!” x2
“Stop being so mushy!”
Seeing three grown men hug each other in a sordid display of emotion, I couldn’t help but voice my thoughts.
The three of them turned towards me.
Yep, that’s definitely those guys from that lolicon group.
“Yo, so you guys were here too, huh?”
“You’re that Loli kidnapper!”
All three of them pointed at me and yelled.
“I’m not! Don’t make it sound that bad!”
Seems like they remember my face too. In particular, their boss seems to have a very strong impression of me. He seems much more excited than the others.
“I won’t forget your evil deeds! Even if you ended up awakening something in me, I won’t forgive you!”
The man who started blushing and averted his gaze from the boss is the one I caught, right?
Come to think of it, I seem to recall stripping him naked and tying him together with the boss back then.
The boss seems livid, but the bashful expression that the minion had towards the boss seems quite similar to the ones Keith and Taylor showed to me a couple of days ago… No, it’s best not to dwell on that.
“What are you doing here!? You’re not planning on capturing us and turning us over to the cops, are you!? We haven’t done anything criminal since then!”
“Yeah, yeah!” x2
“I don’t really care about you guys, but could you guys hand that ball over to me? I’ll let you guys go if you do.”
Right now, turning the residents of Axel back to normal takes precedence.
There’s probably something written in the diary about how to stop it, but it should stop working if I smash it.
“Are you referring to the good luck charm? So it really is something valuable after all. Like hell I’m handing them over to you! You seem like you’re alone… Now’s a good chance. You two, beat him black and blue for the sake of our companions and my revenge!”
“Yes boss!” x2
They readied their weapons and started closing the distance between us.
It’s not the best course of action to take them head on when they outnumber me like this.
… I thought of a great idea.
I dashed back through the door and past the secret door, back to the weathered room.
“Hey, don’t you dare run away! I still haven’t forgotten that sensation and humiliation you put me through! I don’t swing that way!”
“I didn’t exactly enjoy it either…”
Let’s just ignore the underling’s words.
The boss is using a spear just like before. The underlings are armed with short swords.
And my defence against them would be… the sleeping Loli Succubus. I grabbed her from behind and swung my sword in their general direction.
“Touching is… Forbidden…”
Stop talking in your sleep!
“Don’t you dare move!”
“Y-You coward! Isn’t she your friend!?”
“What kind of bastard are you!? Lolis are the treasure of humanity!”
“T-This guy is a devil…”
They backed away in the face of my threat.
Seems like it’s super effective.
“Drop your weapons if you want to see her unharmed!”
“D-Don’t get hasty! Don’t you dare lay a finger on that angelic skin!”
In the face of my threats, they immediately threw down their weapons and raised their hands above their heads.
“Those guys seem more gentlemanly…”
The three sleeping beauties seemed to be saying something, but I ignored it. Come on, just quietly sleep.
I only had to do this because you guys ended up being useless.
I kicked the weapons that they dropped to the edge of the room.
Afterwards, I retrieved some rope from my bag and bound all three of them together.
“At least tie me together with that loli! It’d be a reward for me!”
“No fair, boss! I want that too! It’d be better if it was a little tight!”
“I’d prefer the ponytail girl myself. If possible, in a position where she’s looking down at me!”
“Shut up! Just sit down there and let me finish this!”
After shutting the three of them up, I finished my task.
It felt like a job well done, but I still haven’t destroyed the ball that was the cause of this entire situation.
“Hey, hand over that ball.”
“Heh, too bad! I hid that ball away!”
The boss let out a smile of triumph as he said that.
Seems like he doesn’t fully understand what kind of situation he’s in.
“I’m impressed that you could say that as you are right now. Seems like you don’t quite understand your position.”
“I won’t crack no matter what you do! You can’t do what you did back then in this situation, can you!?”
Last time, I extracted information from him by pushing his face into the naked crotch of his underling, and he seems to be under the mistaken impression that I won’t be able to do anything to him now that they are all bound together.
It’s true that I can’t use the exact same method as before, but there are plenty of ways to extract information from people, especially against this bunch.
Plus, even if he remains silent, there’s not that many hiding places that he could’ve used on such short notice.
After tying the three of them to a pillar, I once again entered the room and started searching the bookcases, but turned up empty,
“That’s odd. There’s only books and bookshelves in this room. Perhaps it’s in the other room?”
I carefully searched the room that I found the diary in, but once again turned up empty. I emptied the rubbish bin and searched under the bed, but still found nothing.
Seems like asking them would be faster than searching for it. That leaves me but one option.
I returned to the room where the three securely bound men were still there, staring at the sleeping forms of Lynn and the others.
“You sure hid it pretty well in such a short time. After becoming the boss, I’m sure threatening you won’t make you open your mouth anytime soon. Say, is it just me, or does it feel cold in this room?”
“Where did that come from? It doesn’t really feel cold or anything.”
“Oh, is that so? But I do feel a little chilly. I wonder if there’s something I can burn to keep warm here… Ah, what do you know, there’s some perfectly burnable books lying around.”
Saying that, I retrieved the books that they were reading and the ones they had hidden on them.
“W-W-Wait a minute… what do you plan on doing?”
“It’s cold, so I’m going to start a fire using these to keep warm. You guys can just watch from there while I warm myself up.”
“Wait wait wait, no, hold on! Don’t do anything rash!”
As I brought the flame of the lantern closer to the pile of books, the three of them started to get agitated.
I didn’t have any intention of burning such treasures either, but watching their reactions amused me.
After a few more close calls, the boss finally crumbled.
“Okay, okay, fine, I’ll tell you! So stop! There’s a sliding bookcase in the right corner of that room! I placed the ball on the pedestal like thing in the room behind that!”
“I didn’t know there was a room like that-”
“Eeeh!? Boss, you left it there?”
One of the underling’s eyes widened with shock.
Why is he so surprised?
“Boss, didn’t you read the warning pasted in front of that room? It warns you not to place the ball on that pedestal! Something about the scale model will start moving or something!”
The Boss met his underlings’s gaze with a slowly dawning look of realization.
It doesn’t seem to be a joke or ruse of some sort.
“Hey, tell me what’s written on the notice. It’s just going to bother… me!?”
With a large grating noise, the ground started shaking..
It was only a small rumble at first, but it quickly became violent enough that I had trouble keeping my footing.
“W-W-What the hell is going on!?”
“I knew that you shouldn’t place it there! It was written in large red letters and everything!”
“Even if you tell me that now…!”
Even though the shaking was violent enough that cracks started forming in the walls and bits of earth started falling from the ceiling, Lynn and the others simply looked over to me blankly and made no movements to escape.
“Hey, we’re running! Hurry up and stand up!”
“Ehh-? That sounds like a chore-”
“Idiot, you’ll really die like this! Ah, dammit!”
Judging from how fast the dungeon is collapsing, there’s no way I’ll make it out in time if I had to drag the three of them along as well.
“Hey, I’ll cut your ropes, so help me carry these three out! We’ll be buried alive at this rate!”
Hearing such enthusiastic replies from them made me uneasy in a different sense, but I can trust these guys to protect them with their lives.
“I’ll take care of the pink haired loli!”
“Hey, no fair, boss! I wanted to take care of her too!”
“Then I’ll take care of the one with the ponytail.”
They started arguing amongst themselves, but no one seemed to choose Yunyun.
Hey, come on, she looks like she’s about to cry! Stop discriminating based off appearances!
In the end, the boss ended up carrying Loli succubus, and the other two worked on carrying Lynn together.
And naturally, the odd one out, Yunyun, was left to me.
“Sob, I’m unwanted…”
I think I heard a sobbing voice coming from my back, but I ignored it as I ran out towards the entrance at full speed.
I’m a little concerned for the others, but they ran ahead of me with surprising speed. Did the sense of duty that comes with carrying Loli Succubus and Lynn raise their speed?
Mere seconds after I made it out of the dungeon, the entrance collapsed into a heap of rubble.
I, along with the three others, collapsed onto the ground, panting heavily after that exertion.
Though, those guys managed to gently lay Lynn and Lolis Succubus down despite their condition.
“Sob, sob, I’m the only one being treated horribly…”
On the other hand, I tossed Yunyun to the side the instant we were out of danger.
“Pant… Pant… Just be thankful… that you’re alive…”
I weakly answered while trying to catch my breath.
Having exhausted all their strength, the three former criminals could only gaze up at the sky with a dazed expression on their faces.
When the rumbling subsided, the girls started sitting up and looking over to us.
“Mmm~… Eh, why am I back outside?”
“Yawn~ Good morning…”
“It feels like all that fatigue has gone away… It might have been because I got flung to the ground…”
They seem a fair bit more energetic than before, as they started stretching like they’ve just woken up from a long nap.
They must have gotten their energy back after that orb was destroyed.
“What was that tremor just now?”
“Hey Dust. Who’re those guys?”
Keith and Taylor leisurely strolled over.
So these guys are back to normal too. Yeah, that ball has got to have been destroyed in the collapse of the dungeon.
“You two sure are carefree, aren’t you? You better be real grateful to me after all the effort I went through to get you guys back to normal.”
If my companions are acting this way, then it’s only a matter of time before everyone in Axel returned back to normal.
That’s the end of this incident, then. Not being able to retrieve the other books left in that room hurts a little, but…
“Well, you must have done something to resolve this while we’re out. Let’s go back, then.”
Just as everyone started making preparations for the journey back, the ground started shaking again.
I had a really bad feeling; no, actually, I’m certain something bad is happening. I turned back towards the dungeon just in time to see the rocks collapsed in front of the entrance go flying.
“Protect the girls! Graah!”
The three of them barely managed to block a large piece of the rubble that came flying our way before hitting the ground.
“Oh, wow, I really didn’t expect you guys to go that far. That’s really deserving of- No, wait, that’s for later! Something’s coming!”
When the dust cleared, a giant, eight legged, spider-like thing could be seen standing at the entrance.
It’s almost twice as big as I am, but this looks just like-
“It looks like a giant spider. Just what is this thing?”
“What is that!? Hmm? Wait, I kind of feel like I’ve seen this thing on the request board before…”
Loli Succubus and Yunyun seems to be a little confused, but the rest of us knew what it was the moment we laid eyes on it.
And, knowing exactly what it is, we broke out in cold sweat.
“I think I’ve seen this thing before. It’s quite a bit smaller, but…”
“What a coincidence, I think so too…”
“Nah, it’s probably just my imagination…”
“This looks just like the Destroyer that we took on together with Kazuma, but…”
In response to our murmurs, my companions and I gulped.
Seeing that, the blood drained from Yunyun and Loli Succubus’s faces too.
The destructive power of the Destroyer is well known, after all.
“Y-Y-You’re not talking about that Destroyer, right? The one that stomps about and destroys towns and villages!? That high bounty target that Megumin couldn’t stop bragging about after she took it out!?”
Yunyun latched onto my chest and started tearfully shaking me, but I remained rooted to the spot.
Just as she said, it’s a splitting image of that giant golem, the mobile fortress Destroyer. It’s quite a bit smaller than the actual article, but it still looks like it has more than enough power to crush us into dirt.
“W-W-Why is there a small Destroyer here!? Is it its child!?”
“Calm down, Lynn! Golems can’t have children!”
While we were distracted, the mini-Destroyer cleared away the remaining rubble blocking the entrance and revealed its full form to us.
The face of the destroyer is filled with a multitude of glowing eyes, though, now that I look at it, one of the eyes isn’t glowing, and bears a very close resemblance to the ball that those three former criminals had on them.
Could it be that it stopped draining motivation after activating the Destroyer?
“It’d be a really big problem if we let this thing escape and head towards Axel! It’d be great if they recovered their motivation just like you guys, but if they’re still stuck in a stupor, this thing will walk all over them! We need to trash it here!”
If they found out that I was the cause of all this, they won’t possibly let me off lightly.
Let’s completely remove all of the evidence here!
“Yeah. I don’t really get what’s going on, but we were the ones in charge of investigating this place, so we bear some responsibility for this.”
“Leave the defence to me.”
“Oh fine! Let’s do this like the time we fought the hydra! I’ll use rope to seal its movements!”
Seems like my companions agree with me.
They are putting on a brave front, but their expressions are stiff. Well, not that I’m in much of a position to judge.
“I-I’ll help too! If I defeat it here, I’ll be able to brag about it to Megumin!”
Yunyun seems willing to lend us a hand too.
I’m expecting some amazing things from you, miss number one mage of the Crimson Demons.
Lastly, Loli Succubus approached the three who were collapsed on the ground and did something to them.
Shortly afterwards, the three men shot up to their feet and saluted Loli Succubus.
“Your orders, please!”
“What did you do, Loli Succ… sa?”
“I showed them a small part of their ideal dream, and asked them to help me if they wanted to see the rest.”
She stuck her tongue out, but rather than making her come off as cute, it made her seem more devilish than before.
This is the first time I’ve thought of her as a first rate Succubus.
“The weak point is that eye that isn’t glowing. If you can smash that, it should stop moving. Right, let’s do this!”
“Don’t worry, leave it to me!”
Keith quickly notched a rope arrow and shot it at the massive golem.
The rope got entangled amongst several of its legs, and the three men immediately grabbed on and started pulling.
“Keep at it! The best performing one will get another girl in their dreams!”
You know, I think those three have the highest morale out of all of us.
One of the legs of the mini-destroyer swung in the direction of Lynn during its struggles.
“Not on my watch!”
Placing himself between Lynn and the leg, Taylor took the blow on his shield and managed to hold it off.
“I’ll try and fend it off for as long as I can, but I don’t think I can do this for very long!”
“I can’t fall behind! Light of Saber!”
The blade of light that emerged from Yunyun’s hand severed two of the eight legs and sent them flying.
I picked up the spear that the boss has tossed aside and charged straight at the mini-destroyer.
It tried to intercept me with three of it’s remaining legs, but like hell I would be hit by any of them when it’s entangled like this.
My body still remembers the stance and footwork needed to use a spear.
Dodging past the flailing legs, I charged straight up to it.
The ropes provided convenient handholds as I made my way on top of the mini-destroyer’s body.
I let my guard down against the Hydra back then, but don’t think that this will end up the same way!
After locating the solitary unglowing eye on its head, I jumped down at it.
The spear that had my entire weight behind it struck against the ball, cracking it’s exterior. Despite that, the mini-destroyer still continued struggling.
Clinging onto its head to avoid getting thrown off, I shouted towards Lynn.
“Cast a spell at this spear, hurry!”
“Roger, leave it to me! Lightning!”
I used the ropes to slide down to the ground, and not a moment too soon.
The flash of lightning that emerged from Lynn’s hand struck the spear head on, and an explosion followed shortly thereafter. The shockwave sent me rolling across the ground to upside down against a tree. Fortunately, apart from a few bruises, I was still mostly unharmed.
The same couldn’t be said of the mini-Destroyer. It let out one last shudder before collapsing to the ground. With its legs either strewn about or in a mangled heap, it’s obvious that this thing won’t be moving again anytime soon.
“At the end of the day, you still aren’t cool.”
“Yeah. He was kind of cool in a Crimson Demon sense for a while there, though…”
“Well, that’s Dust for you.”
Instead of getting concerned for me, the girls instead started shooting their mouths off.
I wanted to shoot back with a couple of quips myself, but then I noticed something vitally important.
“Nevermind that, come a little closer. Just three more steps would do.”
From this position, I’d be able to see under their skirts if they were to move just a little closer.
Lynn wears short pants, so I don’t really have any interest in seeing hers, but the other two should have some amazing sights indeed.
And the fast approaching sole of Lynn’s boots is their response.