An Exploration in that Capital!
Editing: BoringBone, Ulti
“Kazuma-san, now that we have some free time, let’s go for a drink! It’ll be your treat, of course!”
I opened the door of the mansion in search of Kazuma, but the only people present were Aqua, stuck halfway into the heating device known as the kotatsu, and the Explosion Girl who’s playing with her cat.
“Hey, it’s cold, so hurry up and close the door already, umm… Trash, was it?”
“It’s Dust! Hurry up and remember my name already! We just met not too long ago!”
Even after all the adventures and resurrections we went through, the Party Priest still has yet to remember my name.
Closing the door, I approached the kotatsu thing that I had been curious about for quite some time and stuck my legs inside.
“Oh… Oooh, wow, this is…”
The warmth spread up my legs in an instant. A mere moment inside is enough for me to consider spending the rest of my life wrapped in its embrace.
“Haah, so you fell into the grasp of the kotatsu, too. There’s not a single person who can resist this temptation…”
“Aah, no, this is impossible. I’m done for…”
After throwing my upper body under the kotatsu, I felt like just lazing around for the rest of my life.
“Hey, didn’t you come here to invite Kazuma out?”
“That kinda sounds familiar, but who cares about that?”
I can’t go against the allure of the kotatsu. I really want one of my own, but it’ll probably cost quite a fair sum.
Plus Lynn will most likely get mad at me if I lazed about any more.
“This kotatsu is my territory. Normally someone like you wouldn’t be allowed inside, but I might consider letting you stay if you tell me some interesting stories.”
“Doesn’t this belong to Kazuma?”
“Kazuma’s items are my items too! My companion’s possessions are everyone’s possessions, but my items are still mine!”
“Ahh, yeah, I get that!”
Aqua happily nodded as I voiced my agreement.
“Don’t just agree so easily. If you have nothing to do here, hurry up and go home. Kazuma has recently picked up gambling thanks to your influence, so don’t get too close to him.”
The Explosion Girl shot me an exasperated look.
If you ignore her explosion mania and Crimson Demon idiosyncrasies, she’d come off as a pretty decent person. Of course, those two factors are hard to ignore.
“Hey, don’t speak so badly of me. I did introduce him to the local gambling dens, but Kazuma is far more adept at those games than I am! In regards to such matters, he’s a genius!”
I don’t know if he’s a good learner or if he’s just great with his hands, but Kazuma’s results in gambling are just beyond compare.
His luck is great too, so things almost always end up falling in his favour. It makes me really envious.
“That’s precisely why I’m so worried…”
“What are you, his mother? If you interfere in every little thing a man does, he’ll end up detesting you, you know?”
Perhaps realizing that she has overstepped her bounds, the Explosion Girl fell silent.
Great, now I can really put my feet up and relax.
“So, hey, hurry up and tell me something interesting. I’m getting really bored over here.”
Don’t wave your feet under the kotatsu like that. What are you, a kid?
I always knew she was self-centered and unreasonable, but to think that Kazuma had to deal with such behavior every day…
I could ignore her, but I think she might actually throw me out.
“If you put me on the spot like that… Well, actually, it’s been on my mind as of late, but don’t you think that Eris worshippers tend to be on the smaller side? You know, chest-wise? The guys at the church, and that thief that Kazuma stole those panties from too, have ones so small that I question if they are even there at all. I was kinda wondering if there’s some kind of reason for it.”
“Well, isn’t that interesting!? Go on, go on!”
Seems like that caught her interest.
The feud between the Eris Church and the Axis Cult is pretty famous, so it wasn’t completely unexpected, but still, isn’t she biting on a little too hard?
“I’ve met Goddess Eris once before, so I can state with confidence that those breasts of hers are stuffed. Natural breasts have a softness that’s visible even through clothes. There’s a sort of fluttering that screams at you to fill your palms with them.”
“That’s kind of disgusting, but nevermind. Continue.”
“I can’t feel any softness or warmth coming from those chests. She’s always depicted as having a bountiful chest in the portraits and statues and such, but that’s a lie. I’m sure the Eris worshippers must have picked up on it somehow. It doesn’t matter if it’s small, and it’s acceptable to stuff your chest too. That’s why those with small chests naturally flock towards her.”
“I see, that’s definitely how it is! In that case, if we start spreading the rumour that joining the Axis Cult will make your bust grow, we might be able to poach a few of them over! I’ll encourage the others to spread this rumour at the next Axis Cult meeting!”
Aqua excitedly shook my hand.
I’m glad we had a meaningful discussion today.
“But the fervent Eris worshipper, Darkness, has large breasts, you know?”
And just as I thought we finally wrapped things up, the Explosion Girl interjected.
“There’ll always be a few outliers. Even amongst the Crimson Demons, there are some with their heads screwed on straight, and some that have a pitiful chest and crazy thought processes.”
The picture of a Crimson Demon who is bad at interacting with others and always has the aura of a loner came swimming to my mind.
“Oh, why don’t you tell me exactly whose chest is pitiful and what part of her thought process is crazy?”
“Hey, wait, Megumin, don’t use Explosion in the house! My precious wine will get completely destroyed!”
Seeing Megumin’s eyes glow bright red and hearing her chant, I thought that it might be high time to get the heck out of dodge and scrambled out of the mansion.
After getting to a safe distance, I turned back and saw no trace of the telltale signs of explosion magic getting prepared.
So she picked up on that, huh? I would’ve liked to spend some more time enjoying the kotatsu, but, ah well. I’ll just leave it for my next visit.
“What now~ Kazuma isn’t around, so there’s not much to do~”
I didn’t have much money on me, so all I could do was take a walk down main street to kill time. Just then, a woman with a body perfectly suited for my tastes popped into view.
I’ve been hanging out with women with all kinds of peculiarities recently, so I’d really like to have a meal or something with a normal girl for once.
“It’s been a while, but let’s go hit on her. Can’t really get up to anything else without money anyways. She looks to be the serious sort, so let’s go with this.”
I headed over so our paths would intersect. .
She seemed to be quite preoccupied thinking about something, so she didn’t notice my approach at all.
I brushed up against her before exaggeratedly throwing myself to the floor.
“A-Are you alright?”
“Ouch!! I think I just broke a bone in my leg! What are you going to do about this!?”
“Eh? But we didn’t run into each other that hard…”
She seems a little flustered, but overall, she’s still unexpectedly calm.
I should turn it up a notch.
“I don’t think I can move like this. You should treat me to a meal or something in place of the doctor’s bill.”
“Eh? Is a meal really fine when you’ve got a fracture?”
She fell for it. In such a situation, when she’s still struggling with the guilt of possibly causing a serious injury, proposing something minor as recompense works surprisingly well as compared to making a huge fuss.
If things go well from here…
“That suspicious person over there! What are you doing!?”
A brat’s voice suddenly interrupted us. Turning around, I saw a young girl dressed in commoner’s garb pointing directly at me.
It would’ve been nice if it was just a brat with a strong sense of justice, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“This is how it’s supposed to go, right, Claire?”
“Yes, Alice-sama. That’s perfect.”
Beside the brat was a white-suited, short-haired woman clapping enthusiastically.
“Please, you two, stop drawing attention to ourselves!”
A third person came running up. She was dressed in plain robes that made her seem like a spellcaster.
All three of them have blonde hair and blue eyes. Are they nobles?
And I think I’ve heard that arrogant tone of the brat’s somewhere before. I can’t quite place my finger on it…
“Looks like I’ve got myself involved with a troublesome bunch…”
“You are the troublesome one! Committing unjust acts that disrupt the order of the world! As long as my eyes are black, I, the daughter of the Chirimen store, shall not let such acts slide! Ah, my eyes are blue, that’s just a figure of speech. Now, Claire, Rain, get him!”
“What’s a Chirimen store?”
“A Chirimen store is a Chirimen store!”
What kind of incomprehensible stuff is this girl saying?
And why is the white suit just drawing her sword without a second thought!?
“Wait a minute! I’m just getting some food… Eh, Sir!?”
Now that I look closely, the familiar masked and tuxedoed figure of Sir Vanir was standing right behind the three.
Why is Sir Vanir together with them?
I don’t really get it, but I’ll have to rely on him to pull me out of the fire now. It’d be really troublesome if I go up against a noble.
“This is just picking up girls! Sir, please explain to these people!”
“Hachibei, do you know this lawless person?”
“No, Moi does not know this person at all.”
Sir, who was addressed by some weird name, denied without hesitation.
At that, the strangely familiar brat once again pointed her finger at me.
“I shall correct the unjust and make Onii-sama acknowledge me!”
“W-Wait, Sir, come on! Hey, damn it, you better remember this!”
Now that Sir is on their side, my current position is extremely dangerous.
I tried to dash away from the place as quickly as I could, but I let my guard down.
That Claire woman struck me in a right spot and sent me tumbling down. By the time I woke up, I was in a very familiar place.
That’s right, the jail cells.
“And here I was just starting to feel off without you in the cells…”
“Were you lonely without me here?”
I struck up the usual conversation with the warden, and he responded by smacking the bars with his baton.
I’m not the kind of person to be intimidated so easily, so I simply ignored it and laid on the floor.
“Hey, is lunch ready yet? I haven’t eaten anything decent for the past few days, so give me something with a lot of ingredients! And don’t forget the dessert too!”
They didn’t respond, but I know that saying this will get me just a little bit more food.
Well, I didn’t have much to do right now, so I guess I should take a nap. They’ll release me tomorrow anyway.
<TL note: This takes place at the same time as the second chapter of the masked spinoff.>
“Seriously, I’m really sorry about our idiot!”
“Haha, he’s a real handful, isn’t he?”
The police officer gave a wry smile to Lynn as she bowed repeatedly.
This is a very familiar scene to me.
“Thanks for taking care of me, I’ll be back soon.”
“Don’t come back again! This place isn’t a bed and breakfast!”
“You bow too!”
Lynn grabbed me by the head and roughly forced me down.
She’ll probably never vouch for me again if I were to resist here, so I obediently went along.
I followed Lynn who seemed to be in quite the foul mood as she walked out the door. I suppose I should try and cheer her up a little.
“Hey, you’ll put your pretty looks to waste if you scowl like that.”
“If you’re going to flatter me, at least choose your words better. Sigh… So, why did you end up in the cells this time?”
“Yeah, about that, a group of three blonde women interrupted me while I was hitting on a girl. They knocked me out and handed me over to the cops. I didn’t even do anything bad this time.”
I laid it out exactly as it is, but Lynn simply gave me a distrustful look.
It doesn’t seem like she believes a word of what I’ve said.
“I’m serious! Sir was there too, so you can go ask him if you think I’m lying!”
“Sir is referring to Vanir-san, right? I don’t like him very much. I always get the feeling that he’s seeing through me.”
Lynn furrowed her eyebrows. It seems like she caught onto Vanir’s powers somehow.
He does have that all-seeing sight of his, so she isn’t entirely mistaken.
“Well, I need to catch up on what happened yesterday and pick up the rewards from the tranquility girl quest, so I’ll head on over.”
Normally, Lynn or Taylor would be in charge of handling the money, but in this case, that task falls to me.
They wouldn’t mind if I took some of it for myself, would they? Actually, if I won a few games and made it grow several times, the others would be quite happy too.
Just as I was thinking of which den I should gamble today, I felt someone grab me on the shoulder.
“Not if you are picking up money. Trusting you or Keith with money would be like trusting an orc to watch over a guy. I’ll be going with you.”
“You really don’t trust me, do you? Ah, well, I don’t really mind.”
I’ll still need to get Sir to explain what happened yesterday anyways.
Even if she doesn’t trust me, she should be satisfied with an explanation from Sir Vanir.
“Sir, I’m here to pick up the cash~!”
“Can’t you put it in a more courteous way?”
The shopkeeper manning the store jumped up with a start the moment I opened the door to the magic item shop.
After confirming that it’s me, Wiz breathed a sigh of relief.
“Oh, it’s Dust-san. You gave me quite a shock. And you’re with someone cute today.”
“N-Nice to meet you. My name is Lynn.”
Lynn politely introduced herself, a stark contrast to her usual demeanour.
Also, she’s blushing slightly for some reason.
“Hey, what happened to your usual tyrannical personality?”
“That applies more to you! Do you not know her? Wiz-san is a powerful wizard who was known as the Ice Witch back during her adventuring days. She used to hunt down monsters without mercy, and there’s even a rumour that she launched an attack on the Demon King’s castle on her own!”
“Well, I knew that she used to be an adventurer…”
I only ever saw her getting berated by Sir, so I completely forgot about that.
Come to think of it, she was one of the two who blasted the Destroyer with Explosion magic, wasn’t she?
“That was a long time ago. Do you need something? I thought you were a debt collector, so I couldn’t help but put myself on guard.”
“Isn’t this store flourishing thanks to Sir Vanir’s efforts?”
“Well, yes, we are making quite a bit of money thanks to the products that Kazuma-san thought up.”
“Then there’s no need to fear debt collectors this much, is there?”
In the first place, I don’t get why you’d be afraid of debt collectors.
It’s all a matter of planting your feet and intimidating them until they agree to extend the deadline.
“It’s like a force of habit. I always had a lot of debts in the past. I can rest easier now that Vanir-san is lending me a hand.”
Seeing Wiz say that with a smile made my heart skip a beat.
She’s a beauty with a great body and gentle personality. In terms of chest size, Lynn’s can’t even hold a candle to her.
I can’t help but wonder why she’s still alone even with all of these qualities.
“… You look like a gormless idiot, you know?”
“Gah!? Don’t elbow me in the ribs!”
I jumped up in response to the sudden ribbing. This girl really doesn’t know how to hold back.
Just as I was considering grabbing her ass as recompense,
“What happened to the money that Moi worked so hard to earn, you garbage collecting shopkeeper!?”
The door connecting the store to the back room suddenly flew open, revealing Sir Vanir in a foul mood.
The storekeeper jumped up and fearfully averted her gaze.
“W-What do you mean?”
She’s really bad at acting casual. She must have purchased something useless yet again.
Anyone looking at her suspicious behaviour would’ve come to the same conclusion.
“I’m asking what happened to the money Moi earned. If you don’t answer me within ten seconds, Moi shall bury you together with all the garbage goods you bought over the years. You best prepare yourself.”
“Calm down. Vanir-san. I too won’t make the same mistakes over and over.”
Normally she would’ve admitted to buying something useless and get lectured by Sir, but she responded in a dignified manner today.
It seems like this unusual development was outside of Sir Vanir’s expectations too, for he simply stared wordlessly in response.
It’s the first time I’ve seen her so confident. Could she really have chanced upon something profitable for once?
“Then do share what you did with me. If it is something acceptable, Moi shall offer an apology.”
“Very well. I learnt this after observing you. The reason I always end up with unsellable goods is because I always make purchases on my own. Thus, if I were to consult with someone reliable before making a purchase, I wouldn’t end up making that mistake!”
She raised her fist to the air.
Well, that line of thought certainly isn’t wrong. Sir Vanir even nodded along in agreement.
“Ah, so you finally realized that. So, who did you choose as your partner?”
“My frequent customer, Aqua-sama-”
“Turn to ash!”
A mysterious light shone from Sir Vanir’s eyes and caused Wiz to char, crumple up, and start smoking.
I can understand his anger. It’s hard to imagine that extravagant Party Priest choosing anything decent.
Even Kazuma had a hard time keeping his fortune with her around.
“Have you already forgotten that time that self-proclaimed goddess talked you into buying up all that useless land!? How could you ever believe a word that comes out of that thing’s mouth!?”
Vanir screamed, but Wiz offered no response on account of her having lost consciousness.
Seemingly still in a rage, Sir Vanir grabbed a broom and started sweeping the ashen shopkeeper into a corner.
“S-Say, is Wiz-san okay?”
“This happens quite often. Don’t worry about it.”
“This happens… often?”
Lynn, still unused to this sight, timidly peeked out from behind me.
I get the feeling that this will just deepen her dislike for Sir.
“And that takes care of the trash. Now, Moi believes you are here for the reward? Here you go.”
I carefully grabbed the bag stuffed full with coins that Sir Vanir tossed to me.
He’s trustworthy enough that I don’t need to check the contents… no, knowing Sir, there might be a chance of him pulling some kind of prank on me. I’ll check them later.
“I’ll be able to clear my debts with this. By the way, how’s the diet food thing going, Sir?”
“Moi has made a prototype product, but there’s still a few side effects… Oh, what serendipity. Girl who’s worried about her waistline, how would you like a free sample?”
“I’m not worried at all!”
Lynn angrily protested.
“Oh, so that’s why you’ve been eating nothing but salads! If you want to lose weight, I can help you get some exercise on the bed at night.”
“Lightning! I’ll blow you away!”
Lynn narrowly missed my face with a lightning bolt that sailed out through the open door.
“Gah, that was close! Say that before you shoot, not after!”
That was close. My face would’ve been in a right shape if that had connected.
Lynn was still glaring at me, her staff pointed squarely at my face. My life might really be in danger if I don’t change the subject.
“A-Anyway, does that diet food really work? Not that I’m doubting you or anything, Sir Vanir.”
“It’s no surprise even if you do doubt me. How about giving it a try? Moi does not mind giving you a free sample on this occasion.”
“Well, I’m fine with taking some if it’s free, but didn’t you say something about side effects earlier?”
Sir Vanir crossed his arms and looked up towards the ceiling.
Don’t just fall silent. You’ll just make me more worried.
“Hmm, Moi doesn’t quite remember. Still, it simply lifts your mood and makes you crave more and more of it. There’s no need to worry. You won’t get fat no matter how much you eat, after all.”
“… Is that really okay?”
“If it really doesn’t make you grow fat…”
Lynn mumbled in a voice mixed with both disbelief and optimism.
Seems like she still has quite a bit of interest in the item despite her natural suspicions.
“Nah, I think I’ll pass on that. Do call me if you need a hand when it starts selling, Sir. I’ll see you around.”
I already got what I came here for, but Sir Vanir stopped me with a word before I could leave.
This was the same way he made a request of me the last time, right?
I have nothing but bad feelings about this. I already got the money, so I’d really like to get together with my friends and throw a party or something.
“There’s no need to be so on guard. It’s but a simple task. You simply need to carry this bag and hand it over to a black cloaked man with a scar on his face. You don’t even need to say anything. ”
“What, is that all?”
“Wait, that is suspicious as hell! There’s no other way to describe it! Aren’t you curious what’s in the bag? Simply possessing it might very well be a crime!”
Lynn grabbed me with trembling hands and started shaking me.
It’s just a simple job, isn’t it?
“Don’t worry, it’ll be an easy and very profitable job. Feel free to invite your friends too.”
“That’s like a standard line in a scam!”
“He’s just having trouble carrying so many things by himself.”
Rather than anything suspicious, it just sounds like he needs some help carrying goods.
After hearing the details, it seems like Wiz once bought a large quantity of high quality manatite. Of course, there’s no way such high quality goods will sell in a town of beginners like Axel, and it has since been taking up space in the storeroom.
It’s too difficult to sell off all of it, but at least a portion of it can be sold as a package deal along with some of the other pieces of trash that Wiz picked up over the years.
“Moi would really like to handle this in person, but who knows what this fool will get up to if no one watches over her. Worry not, Moi shall cover the costs of transporting it to the capital.”
Saying that, he glared at the shopkeeper who’s curled into a ball at the corner of the store.
“It’s a little suspicious, but that does sound like a good deal. Plus, the fee for the teleport will be covered too.”
“Ah, the capital. Nah, I’m fine. You guys can go on your own.”
All my motivation disappeared the moment I heard about the destination.
I’d rather avoid any place where a lot of nobles gather. Me disliking nobles is a part of it, but it’s best to avoid any risks where that matter is concerned.
“Ah, about that, there’s no need to worry. Moi so declares, there’s no chance of you reuniting with that person you’re concerned about.”
“What are you talking about? I haven’t the slightest idea.”
This is why Sir Vanir is so scary. Nothing can be kept secret from those all-seeing eyes of his.
Averting my gaze from Sir Vanir, my gaze instead met Lynn’s who was staring intently at me.
“What, did you fall for me?”
“Vanir-san, we’ll accept this job. You come with us too.”
“You’re free to accept, but I said I’ll pass.”
“If you don’t come with us, I’ll give all of this money over to your debtors.”
“At least leave me enough to buy a drink!”
Lynn wouldn’t budge no matter how much I protested, so in the end, I had no choice but to agree.
It took a few days after that for the negotiations to be finalized, but we soon found ourselves headed over to the capital.
During that time, I’ve sighted that Alice girl or whatever around town. Somehow, she’s gotten quite close to the Explosion Girl and Yunyun, though I’m not quite sure what kind of relationship they have.
“Wow, so this is the capital. I’ve always wanted to see it! It’s as lively as I’ve heard!”
Lynn immediately jumped out the moment the light from the teleport faded, letting out an impressed sigh while gazing around. The very picture of a tourist.
“It’s my first time here too. It really is different from Axel.”
“There’re women dressed up in such stylish clothes all over the place. I can’t get enough!”
It seems like it’s the first time Taylor and Keith are here too.
“The work comes first. Let’s bring these over to the meeting point.”
I jabbed my thumb behind me and cautioned my companions.
The goods are piled on a hand-drawn cart, and they have to be handed over to the other party by today.
Most of the items in the cart might as well be garbage, so they aren’t paying a whole lot of money for it.
“Hey, what’s wrong, Dust? Did you eat something bad?”
“Why are you acting so serious? Do you not feel well?”
“There really is something strange with you.”
My companions gave me worried looks.
“Is it really that strange for me to take things seriously?”
Damn you, you even all answered at the same time.
Even I have times where I treat my work seriously… Wait, was there? It should’ve happened once or twice, right? Yeah, there has to be.
“Anyway, let’s get going. If you want to sightsee, save it for after the work is done.”
“It feels really weird to be lectured by Dust, you know?”
“Yeah, yeah, I get you. It feels really irritating for some reason.”
“It just makes you not want to do as he says, right?”
These guys sure love to shoot their mouths off.
Just bear with it for now. The sooner I hand the goods over, the sooner I can bid farewell to this city.
“Did you find her!?”
“My apologies, she is not here either!”
Hearing the footsteps of a large group of people, I turned around to see a squad of knights and the white-suited woman named Claire standing right in their midst. And another person, Rain, was it? Well, she’s there too.
They were the ones who got in the way when I was hitting on that girl.
I hid behind the cart and waited for them to pass.
After watching Claire hastily walk away with the knights in tow, I let out a sigh of relief.
“For there to be this many knights running about… Did something major happen?”
“They did seem to be in quite a panic, but it doesn’t feel like we’re at risk.”
It piqued Lynn and Taylor’s interest, but to be honest, I couldn’t care less.
“It seems like they are looking for someone. They started splitting up into small groups.”
Keith was squinting in the direction they went. He’s probably observing them with Farsight.
“Who cares? Let’s just finish the job … Don’t just fall silent! I’m fine! Don’t look at me with such pitiful gazes!”
Lynn gently placed a hand on my forehead and suppressed a sniffle.
“I’m not sick!”
“Drink this anyway.”
Taylor placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me a hangover cure.
“And I’m not drunk either!”
Following that, Keith palmed a piece of paper into my hand as well.
I was just about to toss it away, but on closer inspection, that piece of paper turn out to be a coupon for the Succubus store.
I quietly pocketed it. Whatever the situation, that’s the one thing I won’t reject.
With my companions being so concerned about me, they put their all into completing the job, and so the handover was completed in a snap.
They wanted to go sightseeing afterwards, but I just wanted to go back to the inn, so we ended up going our separate ways.
“I’d really like to explore the city too, but it’d just be trouble if I were to run into them again.”
Claire and Rain are also wandering around the city in search of someone, and running into them will probably result in a headache. It really is safest to simply head to the inn and sleep.
Just as I was browsing around for some wine and snacks to savour when I get back to the inn, someone pulled on me from behind.
Turning around, I saw Lynn tugging on the sleeve of my shirt.
“Didn’t you go sightseeing?”
“What about you? I knew the whole thing about you feeling unwell was a lie.”
“I’m simply buying some wine so I can sleep soundly later.”
“You know… Sigh. Oh fine. Just for today, I’ll go shopping with you.”
I have no idea what came over her for her to make that kind of offer.
Is she actually worried about me despite all of her complaints?
“Oh, well, thanks. Anyway, let’s go pick up something delicious-looking…”
I followed my nose to a nearby stall, but it seems like they already have a customer.
“What kind of meat is this? I’ve never seen its like before…”
A blonde-haired kid was staring at sticks of skewered meat with extreme interest.
Oh, I definitely remember that voice. Why the hell do we have to run into each other at such a place?
“Ojou-chan, this is a high quality dish made from meat from a rare creature.”
“Ah, I see. If it is okay with you, could I have one?”
“But of course~ You’re really lucky, little lady. This one is the last stick. That’ll be a hundred thousand eris.”
“Oh, that’s quite a bargain.”
This man, is he planning to take advantage of a sheltered noble girl?
Even after hearing a price that’s so inflated that it isn’t even funny, she still moved to pay without the slightest bit of doubt.
“That’s just the meat from a giant frog, right?”
Lynn whispered into my ear.
Making money by fleecing tourists and the naive is the most basic of scams. I too participate in such from time to time, so I’m not really in a position to criticise.
I could just leave things as it is, but watching someone else other than me make easy money really pisses me off!
“Hey, old man, don’t overcharge for your goods. And you too, don’t be so easily tricked.”
I grabbed the hand the old man extended towards the money and glared at him, and he hastily pulled his hand back and let out a laugh.
“Ah, did I fall for yet another trick? I don’t know who you are, but thank you very much.”
As the kid raised her head after bowing, she thrust her finger at me in surprise as if she recognizes me.
“Ah, you’re the criminal from back then!?”
At the brat’s words, I could feel Lynn’s murderous stare upon me.
“I told you, that was a misunderstanding!”
“This goes for your criminal actions too, but I especially can’t forgive you betraying everyone’s expectations back when we were looking for members!”
“You were the ones who had the wrong impression in the first place!”
Her cheeks puffed up in anger, but I didn’t do anything wrong.
It was back when she was with the Explosion Girl and Yunyun and wanted to increase their number of playmates that we ended up butting heads.
“To think that I could’ve mistaken this guy for him… I must have really insulted the actual person.”
“Nevermind that, why don’t you properly apologize to me first!?”
In response, she tilted her head. I could just about see the question mark pop up over the brat’s head.
“Say, who is this girl?”
“She’s the one who made you pick me up from jail a few days back. That Alice or something that sicced her white-suited girl on me over a misunderstanding!”
“Oh, I see. I’m sorry about that. It seems like he’s caused you some trouble.”
“No, I should be the one saying that. My apologies.”
The two of them lowered their heads and apologized to each other.
Such a courteous tone is a complete reversal from the tone she took with me.
“Still, there’s something that I have to ask, who was the person you originally mistook him for?”
“That’s a certain person who’s quite famous amongst the nobility. He’s a noble from the neighboring kingdom and the youngest person to achieve the rare job of Dragon Knight. It’s said that he’s peerless with a spear, and on top of that, he’s handsome, just and could be said to be the very ideal of a knight.”
I casually started picking my nose as Alice eagerly relayed the story.
Lynn remained facing her, but her gaze slowly shifted towards me out of the corner of her eye.
“I have heard a similar story before.”
Yunyun wouldn’t shut up about it after our close call with that dragon, after all.
“So you know of it! Even though that knight had a wonderful life ahead of him, he threw away both his titles and lands to grant the wish of the princess who was betrothed to another, eloping with her together on his dragon…”
This brat sure loves to talk about him.
“So he kidnapped the princess. How large of a ransom did he demand?”
“He didn’t do that! It might have only been for a short period, but even though they know their love could never be realized, he still tried to grant the princess’s wish of a honeymoon lifestyle! There’s no doubt about that!”
I don’t know why she’s emphasizing that aspect so much, but there’s no doubt that story really struck a chord with her.
Also, Lynn has been staring at me out of the corner of her eye all this time. It’s not something I can easily ignore.
“If that’s true, that knight would be like the main character of a fairy tale.”
“Right!? He had the resolve to throw away everything for the sake of his love! There’s not a single girl who wouldn’t long for such a situation! Even I…”
The way Alice’s eyes glittered as she stared off into space is the very example of a maiden in love.
As for me, just hearing that story made my back itch.
“So, what happened to that handsome Dragon Knight?”
“He managed to keep his life after he brought the princess back, but his status as nobility was revoked. According to the rumours, he’s now an adventurer in Axel…”
“So that’s why you mistook the handsome and just me for him?”
“No, we thought it might be you because you’re the only man with blonde hair.”
She just had to lay it straight.
“But, I still have a few doubts… Your name was Trash-san, right?”
“It’s Dust! Why do you guys keep messing up my name!?”
“My apologies. Dust-san uses a sword, but that’s not the weapon you originally trained with, right? I’ve received instructions in martial arts since I was young, so I have some knowledge regarding such matters, and the way you carry yourself seems more fitting for someone who primarily fights with a spear.”
She looked me up and down with a scrutinizing gaze.
I do enjoy the attentions of women, but getting stared at is not something I enjoy.
And don’t say such unnecessary stuff in front of Lynn. I’m going to need someway to throw her off.
“A spear, huh… It must be because I make frequent use of the spear in my pants.”
“In your pants? You can hide a spear in such a place?”
“What are you saying in front of a child!?”
Alice tilted her head in confusion, while Lynn exploded at me.
Still, to think that she has no idea what goes on downstairs… She might be a kid, but what kind of walled garden was she raised in?
Darkness would’ve understood in an instant and gotten both excited and angry at the same time.
This girl might be the perfect example of what nobility should be, but her peers are just too eccentric.
“So, about that former Dragon Knight, can you tell me more details about him?”
“Sure, I’d be happy to, onee-san… Hmm? Say have we met somewhere before?”
“Eh? No, this should be the first time we met.”
The two of them looked into each other’s eyes.
If she finds Lynn’s face familiar, that means… It’d probably be best to separate them before things get any more complicated.
“Anyway, who cares about that. I’d really like to go back to the inn already.”
“Hold on a minute, I’m still talking to this girl. Or, would it be bad if I were to learn more about this Dragon Knight?”
Lynn seemed really interested in this topic for some reason. Alice too seemed overjoyed with being able to talk more on this matter and happily continued.
“Then, let me start again from the beginning. It’s a pretty famous story amongst the roya- nobility, the story of a low-ranking noble from the neighbouring country who is the youngest to attain the rare Dragon Knight job. That young man showed extreme talent as a Dragon Knight, and was loved by dragons even from a young age…”
I tried to subtly observe the two of them as Alice retold the story.
Perhaps because she’s used to telling this story, she skillfully recited it without even the slightest pause.
On the other side, Lynn was hanging on to her every word.
Just what exactly is so interesting about this story in the first place?
“Seems like he’s popular enough to create a fanclub. A stiff and proper knight… So he eloped with the princess who held an unrequited love for him?”
“Don’t you think it’s a wonderful story!?”
A Lynn who could barely keep her doubtfulness from showing on her face and an Alice whose eyes were sparkling.
Well, I’m sure this story must sound wonderful to a dream-filled kid.
“Hah, what an unlikable man. There aren’t any decent nobles in the first place. There’s that female knight who gets excited the moment she sights an enemy and charges in, and that perverted guy who had designs upon that knight. Oh, and there’s the guy that holds sexual feelings towards me.”
The last one is the worst. I originally thought he had a crush on Lynn, but the one he had a crush on was actually me.
That was really dangerous for me. I managed to escape, but just thinking back to that moment made my heart beat faster.
I still remember how Kazuma just left me on my own without even trying to offer me aid.
“There’s no way such nobles could exist! Stop slandering them!”
“But it’s all true…”
Lynn muttered under her breath.
“You really are a sheltered little lady, aren’t you? The real world is very different from whatever padded mansion you’ve been living in. It’s far larger and more chaotic than you can imagine, and what you might think is common sense won’t always apply.”
The outside world is far larger, and far more interesting.
It’s not a world that a noble little lady kept so carefully insulated from all of it’s darker aspects could understand.
“Y-Yeah, Onii-sama said something similar too. But that is precisely why I snuck out to explore the city! Ah!”
She hastily covered her mouth, but it’s too late.
“The white-suited woman… Claire, was it? So the person she was searching for is you?”
“You’re referring to the knights who’re raising a fuss all over the city, right?”
“You know them!? Don’t tell me you’re here to bring me-”
A fearful expression fell over Alice’s face.
Well, that removes any doubt I might’ve had. This girl really is the one they are looking for.
“We just happened to see them run down the streets. No, hold on a minute, if they’re raising such a huge fuss over you, doesn’t that mean that there’d be quite a sizeable reward for turning you over?”
A noble family capable of commanding such a large number of knights must be rolling in gold.
Judging from how desperate that Claire woman seemed, I could expect quite a sum as a reward.
“I’ve changed my mind. We’re handing you over. Sorry, but I’m going to have you pay for my drinks.”
“Leaving money aside, they seem quite worried about you. I think it’d be best if you headed back.”
Lynn and I tried to convince Alice, but she only stubbornly shook her head.
“Could you please let me off? I only just escaped and haven’t yet had the chance to explore the city much. If you let me off, I’ll give you this ring I snuck out from the treasury to pawn for money.”
“Ojou-sama, please give me your orders.”
I kneeled and took Alice’s hand.
Anyone would’ve done the same after seeing the size of the jewel atop the ring she’s offering me.
Don’t give me such a disdainful look, Lynn.
“Are those two lovers? I’m a little envious.”
Following Alice’s gaze, a well-built man and a woman wearing thick makeup were talking about something while hand in hand with each other.
The man had a dreamy expression on his face as he was being led into a store by the woman.
“That’s just a man being led into a shady bar, Ojou-sama.”
“A shady bar?”
“First, she’ll make contact with a rich and interested-seeming man outside the bar. If they fall for it, she’ll use her body and wine to make them lose sight of their better judgement. In the end, they’ll end up fleecing him for everything he has on him.”
“He’s gone and fallen for this trick several times, so you can trust his word.”
You didn’t need to say that, Lynn.
I’m trying to stay on my guard for these sort of tricks, but my judgment is always the first to go whenever I get more than a few pints in me.
“So that’s how it is. I should warn Onii-sama so he can avoid falling for it. ”
I don’t know what kind of person this Onii-sama that Alice is talking about is, but if someone is vulnerable to this sort of provocation, no amount of warnings will keep him from falling for it. A man’s sex drive is a terrifying thing.
“This entrance ticket is originally worth ten thousand eris, but for a short time only, you can have it for free! There’s only one exhibition being hosted right now, so feel free to observe for as long as you want!”
“Free entry to an art gallery? That’s a pretty good bargain, isn’t it? Why don’t we go have a look?”
I stopped Alice before she could approach the woman advertising by the side of the street.
“That’s a trap.”
“There’s no way tickets to such a small exhibition would be worth ten thousand eris. Humans are naturally susceptible towards words like free or concepts like bargain. The moment you enter the gallery, they’ll start pushing expensive works of art upon you.”
“That’s pretty shrewd. It isn’t against the law, is it? If it is, I’ll have to relay this to father.”
“There’s no point. The customer willingly walked into the store by themselves and bought anything they did of their own will. Anyone who’s fooled has only themselves to blame.”
She really is naive.
It’s not a bad thing to be pure, but she’ll probably get tricked by some bad guy like this.
“Wait here for a moment.”
It’s probably faster to show her in person.
That woman is quite used to this.
She seems to just be calling out to the crowd at random, but she’s actually searching for those who seem to cave easily under pressure.
I drew closer to that woman.
“Hey, nee-chan, is it true that you’ll give me an entrance ticket for free?”
“Yes, of course! It’s only… for a limited time.”
Her jovial smile vanished the moment she met my gaze. She probably sensed that I don’t make for good prey.
“Oh, that seems like a bargain. I’ll take one.”
“You don’t seem very interested in art, though.”
“You really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Though, yeah, I don’t care about art at all, haha! But, if it’s originally worth ten thousand eris, I should be able to get at least five thousand for it if I resell it, right?”
I deliberately said it in a voice loud enough to be heard over the crowd.
“Eh, wait , no, I can’t give it to you if you plan to resell it…”
She faltered and tried to distance herself from me, but I won’t let that happen. The kinds of people who engage in legally grey activities like such tend to conversely be vulnerable to pressure themselves.
After some cordial negotiations, I eventually managed to wring some teacakes and an envelope filled with money from her.
“Well, there you have it. You want some cake?”
When I returned triumphantly with the spoils of war, the other two instead slowly edged away from me.
“Why is she crying…?”
“You are really a villain, aren’t you?”
“I just asked her for a ticket and she gave these to me. I used to do this all the time back in Axel. The ones in the capital can’t even compare.”
If I did this back in Axel, the store owner would toss me out.
In the first place, such a ploy wouldn’t work in Axel. The moment they heard the words free, the inhabitants of that town would swarm over and either negotiate the price down or not buy the paintings at all. In either case, the proprietor would end up making a huge loss.
The people of Axel are quite stubborn, after all.
“Still, you seem quite familiar with such activities. In such respects, you resemble Onii-sama just a little bit.”
Is that Onii-sama of hers more familiar with how the world works?
Someone that resembles me, huh? He must be a pretty swell guy.
“I kind of feel sorry for your Onii-sama to be compared to Dust.”
Oh shut up.
“By the way, are you really having fun with just walking around the city?”
“Yes, very much so. Taking a walk around the city like a normal girl is pretty fun.”
Seeing her carefree smile couldn’t help but give pause to both Lynn and I.
“O-Oh. Well, I’m glad for that.”
“That blush really doesn’t suit you, you know?”
Lynn punched me on the shoulder.
“Being free is nice. You can spend your life freely without worrying about anyone’s gaze. I wonder if Onii-sama spends his days like this too?”
I think I have a good idea of what kind of person Alice is talking about.
That person simply causes trouble according to his own selfish whims, but he has a certain freedom that Alice really looks up to.
Perhaps Alice herself desires that too.
Seeing Lynn and Alice happily browse the roadside stalls brought certain memories to the forefront.
… This ain’t good. This combination really isn’t good for me.
“Ojou-sama, isn’t it best to head back home? I’ll escort you back as thanks for the ring.”
The sun is almost halfway beneath the horizon and the surroundings are getting dark, so it’s not a bad time to start heading back.
“I don’t feel like going home yet. They’ve been increasing security recently to prevent me from escaping, so it’s not often I get to enjoy such a situation.”
“So you’re a repeat offender.”
“I have a boss that usually helps me escape, but it seems like she’s been busy recently, so I had to handle things by myself. Onii-sama taught me a lot of useful tricks, so I’ve been able to manage quite well. Though Claire keeps saying that he’s a bad influence and warning me not to spend any more time around him.”
He might be her brother, but it doesn’t seem like he’s very welcome around the household.
Is her Onii-sama born of a different mother, I wonder? Perhaps her mother is of a higher status than the one who gave birth to her brother… Well, whatever the case, it has no bearing on me.
I’d really like to stop playing babysitter, but even though she’s completely different in both looks and personality, she still can’t help reminding me of her, so I can’t help it.
And her face’s been bothering me…
-Oh. I see. So Alice was a fake name after all.
“By the way, Tr-Dust-san.”
“You almost just called me Trash, didn’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Dust-san, are you in hiding too? You have blonde hair as well.. .”
She’s changing the topic because she doesn’t want to go back yet.
“What about it? There are plenty of guys with blonde hair outside the nobility.”
“That’s true. I’ve heard that the Dragon Knight has blonde hair and blue eyes, but, wait, don’t tell me…”
I don’t know what went through her mind, but the moment she said that, she grabbed my head and moved her face right up next to mine.
“Hey, wai- what are you doing!?”
“Your eyes are red. It seems I was mistaken after all. My apologies, Dust-san.”
“It’s fine, just get off me.”
Iris gave me a deep bow after letting go of me.
Well, changing the topic is fine an all, but it’s gotten quite dark out by now.
“Seriously, if you don’t head back soon, it’s going to become a major-”
“There she is! Arrest that man besides her! You may cut him down if he resists!”
Announcing her presence with a scream was the white suited-woman, a sword in hand as she charged at us. Following hot on her heels is a small band of knights.
From the looks of things, it doesn’t seem like she has any intention of listening to anything I say.
“Oh shit! Seeya, ojou-sama! Make sure you properly clear up this misunderstanding!”
“Ah, thank you very much for being with me today, Dust-san and… your girlfriend.”
“I am not his girlfriend!”
I really don’t want to find out what happens if I were to be caught here, so I quickly grabbed Lynn’s hand and ran away.
Don’t think you can so easily catch up with me who spends every day running away!
It’s been a few days since I returned from the capital.
I tried to sell the ring that Alice gave me, but the damned thing had the crest of the royal family on it. Not a single pawn shop would even give me the time of day when I tried.
So that kid really was the first princess of the Kingdom, Iris.
“This is completely worthless.”
It’s not like I could brag about the incident either. It’s just too risky, so there’s really nothing I can do with it.
I considered the possibility of exchanging it for gold the next time we meet, but I don’t intend on ever visiting the capital again, so chances of us running into each other are pretty slim.
“Aaahh… I’m so free.”
I let out a large yawn and got off the bed.
The money I got from Sir is pretty much all used up now, so I suppose I should start looking into getting another quest.
I poked my head into the guild, and standing right in the middle is a short-haired woman wearing an out-of-place suit who was observing her surroundings with bloodshot eyes.
I immediately turned around and tried to leave the guild without drawing attention to myself.
“Ah, that’s the Dust-san you’re looking for.”
I heard Luna’s voice saying my name, followed by the footsteps of two people hastily rushing towards me.
… Ah, I really want to run away.