Divine Punishment upon this NEET too!
Editor: BoringBone, Ulti, Xenthur
A dimly lit room.
“… Don’t think you’ll be treated this cordially forever. I’ll ask again… Satou-dono, you dropkicked a passing priest who has done nothing to provoke you yesterday. Do you deny this?”
“I do not.”
Upon hearing my instant reply, one that I’ve repeated who knows how many times by now, a vein started twitching on the temple of the brown haired female knight seated opposite me.
“… Right, so you, upon seeing the back of the head of a passing priest, was seized with the uncontrollable urge to dropkick her. However, the priest detected your presence and turned around, causing you to kick her right in the face instead. In other words, you did it on a whim. Is that right?”
“That’s exactly the case.”
The pen the knight had in her hand snapped right in half.
“… That priest is the same person that Lady Dustiness asked me to thoroughly investigate a few days ago. Does that have anything to do with this matter?”
“It doesn’t… Probably…”
The knight threw away the remnants of the pen and slammed her hands on the table.
“You piece of shit, do you think I’m some sort of inept retard!? We have been looking into that priest too! Do you really think that excuse will work on me!?”
“S-Stop! Using violence during interrogations is against the law! Get me a lawyer! I can afford it, so get me a lawyer!”
I yelled as the knight grabbed me by my collar.
I wanted to get away, but right now, both my hands were chained together. All she had to do was pull on my chains to foil any attempts at such.
“Satou-dono, you’re speaking to a knight of Axel! One in charge of managing this police station! Naturally, I’m well aware of the odd atmosphere that has taken over this town as of late! You know something about this, right!? You might have a bad reputation, but even someone like you wouldn’t kick a woman for no reason! Considering your actions in the past, you must know something! Now, out with it! What are you hiding!? What is happening to this town!?”
“I-I know nothing! S-Stop! You’re a knight of a lower standing than house Dustiness, right!? I’ll tattle on you! I’ll tell Darkness that you did some unspeakable sexual things to me!”
“H-Hey, don’t fabricate things! In the first place, Lady Dustiness is well known for being just. I know she’s in the same party as you, but she wouldn’t unjustly exercise her power just because of that. Too bad for you! Just wait here, I’ll go fetch the lie detecting magic item!”
The knight looked down upon me with a smug smile as she confidently declared that.
“I-I beg your pardon!”
A voice called out from the other side of the door.
Without turning away from me, the knight said…
“What is it!? I’m busy right now! This man keeps replying with empty platitudes…!”
“Well… Lady Dustiness wants to see him…”
The knight let go of my collar.
—This is the interrogation room at the town’s police station.
After kicking Serena in broad daylight, I lost consciousness and found myself detained here when I came to.
Seems like the damage I inflicted upon Serena really was completely mirrored back onto me.
Even though I felt a strong impact the moment my legs made contact, I don’t feel any pain or discomfort at all right now. Aqua must have healed me while I was out.
And that brings us to now.
Ever since I woke up, I’ve been interrogated by this knight who seems to be the one in charge of this police station…
“Why is Lady Dustiness here? Tell her that I shall see her after I find out what this man is hiding. Satou-dono is a fairly accomplished adventurer, so a stay in the detention cells should suffice. I shall give her a detailed report after I’m done.”
The knight said without turning around.
This isn’t good.
I can’t speak of Serena right now.
Especially not towards someone as hardheaded as her or Darkness.
I did ask Darkness to get me out of here, but we are talking about the same Darkness who dislikes injustice and abuse of power.
Telling her to get me out without even filling her in might be a little too much…
—Just as I was thinking that, the man on the other side of the door said in a troubled voice…
“What’s the matter?”
The knight turned around with a puzzled expression, and standing next to the man was…
“My apologies, it’s me. I hope you don’t mind if I let myself in.”
The door opened an inch, and standing next to the man was Darkness.
As the man bowed and retreated, the knight gave Darkness a crisp salute.
Following that, I screamed.
“H-Hey, I told you not to call me Lalatina! … Ahem. My apologies. So, did you learn anything from him?”
Darkness was flustered for a moment, but quickly recovered her posture and asked the knight.
The knight, standing as stiff as a board, said.
“This man clearly knows something, but has told me nothing nothing but a stream of excuses like having struck her out of irritation or for fun… Please wait for a moment. I’ll rip out whatever it is that this man is hiding…!”
After hearing the knight’s formal reply, Darkness looked me right in the eyes.
“… Kazuma, is that woman’s secret something you can’t tell even me or Aqua or Megumin?”
I wordlessly nodded.
Seeing that, Darkness fell silent for a moment.
“… Is it bad if someone else knows about it? Are you saying to leave this incident to you? … If you can’t reply, it’s fine to remain silent.”
“… … ”
I wordlessly returned Darkness’s gaze.
With that, Darkness shifted her gaze from me towards the knight and awkwardly scratched her cheek.
“So, well… Could you let him off on my account? Considering his previous achievements, couldn’t you file this incident as a fight between two adventurers…? ”
“Huh? … Umm, well… Are you certain, Lady Dustiness? The other party didn’t lodge any reports, so there’s no issues with this, but… you who hates abusing your authority…”
The knight gazed between me and Darkness with a surprised look on her face.
Eventually, the knight handed the keys to my manacles over to Darkness.
In truth, I probably had the same expression as the knight right now.
She didn’t use her authority even when she was about to be married off to Alderp, but now she’s using it in this situation… She’s really changed.
Ignoring mine and the Knight’s gazes, Darkness said,
“Kazuma, you don’t have to say anything. I’ll leave this matter to you. However, I’ll handle the cleaning up… At least rely on me for that.”
“Hey, don’t grab onto me! I can’t unlock your chains if you move around that much!”
That hardheaded Darkness, that very same Darkness who went on about the law and what humans ought to do and such not too long ago…
Sure, she has been less willing to let her principles get in the way as of late, but still…
To think that she’d trust me enough that she’d do this for me.
Overcome with joy, I happily placed my wrist in front of her, and she unlocked them without any hesitation.
“U-Umm… Lady Dustiness, is your relationship with Satou-dono really that of simple party members…?”
Almost like she’s afraid to hear the answer, the knight hesitantly asked as she looked upon us with a dumbfounded expression.
Darkness blushed slightly, but managed to keep a straight face…
“… We’re just party members. Right, Kazuma?”
“… Well, I suppose.”
Hearing my reply, Darkness seemed relieved, but a hint of sadness flashed over her features for a moment.
The knight let out a relieved breath as well.
“Y-Yeah, of course… Lady Dustiness is like a dignified exemplar that all of us female knights look up to. There’s no way she could be together with such an infamous man, and a commoner on top of that… Yeah, of course, they’re just friends…”
“Yes, indeed, we are just regular party mates. Party mates that take baths together and get into close contact in tight spaces. The kind of party mates where she asks me to remove her panties when she needs to use the toilet. What else? Oh, yeah, the kind where I’d sneak into her room in her mansion and push her down, and then she’d turn the tables and push me down. And there’s also that time where she tried to drug me to sleep. Yes, we’re just regular party mates.”
“T-T-T-That’s no— That’s not true! I-It isn’t…”
The knight looked at us with a stunned expression, and Darkness was at a loss for words.
“Y-Y-You two are… !? It’s— It’s that, right? You’re companions, after all! That’s just fooling around and teasing each other, right, Lady Dustiness!?”
“Awawa! Y-Yes, it’s just like that! It’s just… like…”
The knight got really desperate for some reason, and Darkness awkwardly flailed around.
Looking at those two, I rubbed my wrist where the manacles were and said.
“Oh, yeah, we kissed.”
The knight blushed and her jaw fell open.
And Darkness, blushing all the way to her ears, pressed her face against my back and slowly slid down.
—After getting released from the police station, I’m currently getting an earful from Darkness.
“… You-You really are— How could you!? What should I do? That will become a rumour amongst the other knights and nobles… I’m not helping you again if you get caught! … Actually, I can’t show my face around this place anymore…”
“But none of those things I said were lies.”
Darkness, still blushing, glared at me upon hearing my words.
That said, while she does seem a little troubled, it doesn’t seem like she’s particularly angry.
Judging that her mood isn’t that bad, I raised something with Darkness.
“Say, Darkness, can I ask you for a favour?”
“Now, there’s no need to be embarrassed. Tell me about what’s troubling you… Oh, my, if it isn’t Kazuma-sama.”
“Yo, Serena. There’s no need to attach -sama to my name, it just makes us sound distant. Just Kazuma is fine.”
At a corner of the guild, Serena was extending a helping hand towards another troubled adventurer.
As I appeared, Serena flashed me a warm and welcoming smile, one which I returned in kind.
The favour I asked of Darkness was to have Aqua put a barrier around the mansion and hole herself up inside together with Megumin and Aqua.
And also to inform them that I won’t be coming home for a while.
Serena spoke in a warm and welcoming manner, almost as if I never dropkicked her.
I too adopted the same jovial tone.
“You’re offering help to the troubled adventurers again, huh? It must be tough on you to do this every day. Do you want my help?”
“No, no, it wouldn’t do for me to take up the time of the busy Kazuma-sama. How about turning your strengths and efforts to getting rid of monsters instead?”
Despite our casual small talk, for some reason, the adventurers around us seemed quite on edge.
Most of the adventurers here were the same ones who saw me deliver a dropkick to Serena yesterday.
It must have seemed strange to them to see us chat away so casually after such an incident.
Despite her polite refusal, Serena still seemed to regard me with some degree of wariness as I sat at a table a short distance away from the crowd.
Eventually, she shook her head and turned back to the adventurer.
“… My apologies. Now then, why don’t you start by telling me about your troubles?”
The adventurer, who had been politely waiting while we had our little chat, hesitated for a moment before saying,
“Um… It just never goes well no matter how I confess. Whenever I get close to girls, they always say ‘You’re a pretty good person’. They always say that, but then when I ask them to go out with me, they always decline…”
That’s a pretty common story.
Serena gave the adventurer a gracious smile.
“Don’t you think being called a good person is the highest form of praise? Most other forms of charm and beauty fade away with time and age, but someone who’s beautiful on the inside will stand the test of time… Please continue being a good person. Being called as such by many people is quite charming on its own, don’t you think? It’s too soon for you to worry and despair over it. I’m certain the person who would fall in love with you would appear soon…”
Serena replied with some equally common platitudes.
It seems she can’t use the power of her goddess on every little problem that crops up.
The adventurer brightened up slightly.
“Y-Yes! I was feeling a little down since I kept getting rejected in the same way, but… thanks to you, I’ve cheered up a little. Serena-sama, thank you ver—”
“If he’s that charming, why don’t you just go out with him?”
Just before the adventurer could finish his words of gratitude.
My carefree words caused Serena and the crowd that surrounded her to stiffen up.
The adventurer who came to consult with her slowly turned around to face me.
His expression made me think that the thought hadn’t crossed his mind before, but he started entertaining it the moment I mentioned it.
I decided to help him on a whim.
Even I get in a mood where I want to help others from time to time.
Sure, people call me fiend and heartless and whatnot, but when someone is in trouble right in front of me…
“Serena even called you charming, you know? She went all the way out there to send those signals to you, so why the hell are you chickening out now!? The reason you’ve been rejected all this while is for this very moment!”
“Seriously!? Then… Serena-sama!”
“Y-You’re a good person, but, well…”
Hearing what Serena had to say even before he completed his confession, the adventurer let out an anguished squeal and moved to dash out…
I grabbed his hand before he could leave.
“Why are you giving up so easily!? Don’t just accept their words at face value! Women are complicated creatures! You need to learn how to read between the lines! Haven’t you heard of the term tsundere?”
“…… Tsun… Dere…?”
As I started trying to convince the adventurer, Serena uneasily interjected, but I continued.
“Saying no even though they like you. Haven’t you heard of this famous term before?”
“I-I do know of that phrase! I see, read between the lines…”
After receiving my encouragement, the adventurer tightly grabbed Serena’s hand.
“Serena-sama! I… I…!”
“W-Wait a minute! Please calm down…! Argh, you lit— K-Kazuma-sama!”
Ignoring Serena’s cries, I left the guild to think about what I can do to get in her way tomorrow.
It’s been a few days since I was released from the police station.
Serena, along with her usual crowd of hanger ons, warily gauged their surroundings before exiting a restaurant.
They’re probably on the look out for a certain someone who has been harassing her these past few days.
One of the adventurers from the crowd, who has become more like Serena’s personal bodyguard detail than anything else, leaned over and whispered something to her.
With my Lip Reading skill, it was easy to make out what he was saying.
“It’s alright, Serena-sama. There’s no one nearby.”
Observing Serena’s figure from behind, I muttered to myself.
“Wind, check. Distance, check. Angle, check.”
On a rooftop quite some distance away from the group, I ran down my short checklist.
Right now, I’m observing her through my Farsight skill while training my bow upon her.
It’d be hard for them to notice me from this distance.
Of course, Serena would know who exactly attacked her.
Even though I had my bow trained upon her head, if I let my arrow loose, I would instantly die along with her.
Not only that, but if what she said a few days ago was real, the people around her would be cursed as well.
Right now, Serena was gripping a cup of something she bought from the restaurant in her hand.
I don’t know exactly what’s inside, but it’s probably some cold juice or coffee or something.
… That’s just perfect.
The arrow I’m using has a rounded tip, so even if it does end up accidently hitting her somehow, it wouldn’t be lethal.
My goal right now isn’t to assassinate her.
Indeed, my goal is…
Along with a strong gust of wind, I let loose my arrow.
And the target of that arrow is…
“Gaaah! Dammit, so she was drinking hot coffee!?”
I rolled around on the roof in response to the sudden burning sensation that spread across my hand.
Observing Serena with Farsight, the cup in her hand had been split open by my arrow and she was hastily trying to shake away the coffee that covered her hand.
… Dammit, so this won’t work either.
Shaking my head, I got back to my feet and continued observing her.
—I figured out several things about Serena after harassing her for the past few days.
The first thing is that, even if you hurt her in an indirect fashion, that damage will still be reflected to you.
Just like in this incident. Even though I didn’t attack her directly, the burns caused by her spilled coffee were still transfered to me.
If an indirect attack would work, I’d have bought one of Wiz’s potions that exploded on impact and snuck it into her belongings…
Serena warily looked around as she healed her hand.
It’s doubtful that she’d be able to find me, but just to be safe, I activated my Lurk skill and changed locations.
—Another thing I’ve discovered about Serena’s powers.
“U-Um, Kazuma-san…? Err, I came with you because you said you wanted my help with something, but isn’t this against the law…?”
The rapid change in the behaviour of the adventurers is definitely related to her power in some way.
The adventurers who started addressing her as -sama still retain their own individuality.
The one thing they all have in common is that all those folks who basically revere her as a goddess now are those who have consulted with her before.
“Well, the act itself probably isn’t exactly praiseworthy, but… I’m begging you, Yunyun, I’m keeping this a secret from Megumin and the others. You’re the only one I can count on.”
“I’ll do it! Please let me do it! We are friends, after all! Leave it to me! You can rely on me for anything!”
Perhaps being happy to be relied upon, Yunyun enthusiastically nodded.
It’s midnight right now.
Despite my reckless request, Yunyun still agreed to go along with it.
Even though she consulted with Serena just like all those other adventurers who ended up as part of Serena’s entourage, Yunyun still retained her senses.
I wonder why Yunyun’s still fine even after consulting with the Priest that follows the Dark Goddess of Puppetry.
Right now, we are in front of a sturdy and windowless cottage that Serena was staying at.
Her followers erected this building to serve as her residence after she started getting attacked by a mysterious assailant.
I started preparing in front of the cottage.
I gave a small signal. Upon seeing it, Yunyun nodded and started softly chanting her spell.
A small shimmer fluttered around us, before fading away.
Yes, the spell I requested from Yunyun is the one the Crimson Demons are so fond of, the light refracting spell that made us invisible.
After casting it on us, Yunyun leaned over and softly whispered.
“Is this okay, Kazuma-san? All that’s left now is to cast Silence on the door, right? Actually, the town has been really weird as of late. Does it have anything to do with what you’re doing now, Kazuma-san?”
“Yeah, it does. What we’re doing now is very close to a criminal act, but this is all to save this town, so don’t worry. Ah, of course, I’ll have to ask you not to tell anyone about tonight.”
“… … Right.”
Perhaps reminded that she doesn’t have anyone to tell tonight’s events to in the first place, Yunyun started slowly tearing up.
As I tried to comfort this lonely girl, I started making preparations to cast my spell as well.
I’ll probably end up using a lot of mana tonight.
That why I bought several manatites from Wiz’s shop.
The bigger and clearer these stones are, the more expensive they are and the more mana they contain. This time, I only brought a few mid grade manatites with me.
It’s quite cold around this time of year.
It probably won’t melt before morning.
I pointed my hand towards the door and—
After a short nap, I returned to the cottage to check on my work.
The sound of someone smacking against the door was mixed with the soft, somewhat urgent sounding cries of someone behind it.
“Serena-sama, we’ll do something about this ice soon, so please hold on for just a while more!”
“Argh! That’s why I said that a room at an inn with proper guards would be better! There would be a toilet attached too!”
“We can’t help it, we didn’t have the money! Serena-sama, please hold on for just a while longer! Hey, aren’t any of the adventurers who can use fire magic here yet!? What about hot water!? Or at least get a hammer or something to break through!”
“A hammer wouldn’t work on this! Some twisted guy sprayed the entire house with water before freezing it, so the entire thing is frozen solid! Ahh, what should we do…!?”
With the aid of Yunyun’s invisibility spell, I spent the entire night using Create Water and Freeze to encase the door of the cottage in a solid block of ice.
Still, I haven’t gotten a clue as to what Serena’s true goals are.
Why would she travel all the way to this town of beginners to get more followers through her powers of puppetry? What purpose would that serve?
My mind filled with such thoughts as I casually observed the adventurers work themselves into a panic from afar and dug into the cup of shaved ice I bought on the way.
—A few more days have passed since then.
I made contact with Darkness, but apart from Megumin repeatedly trying to cast Explosion in the skies above town and Aqua complaining incessantly over being unable to go out, there didn’t seem to be any issues.
I was a little worried that Serena might snap and target the mansion or them, but it seems like she’s still putting on a tough front.
Though, her mask has been cracking a lot recently.
It seems like those rumours I spread about her a few days back did get to her.
With those thoughts in mind, I busied myself with preparing my next trick.
“S-S-So this is where you were, Kazuma-sama. I-I’ve been searching… wanting to meet with you.”
Suddenly, I heard a polite-seeming voice that was only just barely able to conceal her anger from behind me.
I turned around and cordially smiled.
“Yo, if it isn’t Serena. It’s been some time. What’s wrong? You’re scaring the people around you with that face of yours, you know?”
Right now, we are in the backyard of the inn that I’m currently using as my base.
Normally, the adventurers who slept in the stables would use this place to sharpen their weapons and tend to their armour and such, but for some reason, right now, I’m the only one here.
Serena put on an obviously forced smile in response to my greeting.
“Yes, it has been some time, Kazuma-sama… May I ask what are you doing there?”
She warily asked upon sighting the item in my hand.
“Do you know of the balloons that they are selling at Wiz’s magic item shop? This is called a water balloon. It’s an item that expands upon being filled with water. Right now, instead of water, I’m filling it with a mixture of paint and starch—”
“Hey cut it…! I don’t know what you intend to do with that, but if you’re planning on playing some kind of prank with it, then I won’t stand idly by.”
Saying that, Serena took a step back.
At the same time, a few of the adventurers surrounding her stepped forward.
“… Hey, what are you trying to do?”
“You are asking me that? … I’m almost at my limits. These people are almost completely under my control. If I order them to kill you, they’ll do it without blinking an eye… I really underestimated you. To think that just you alone could really push me to this level…! Yeah, you really had your fun, didn’t you!?”
This ain’t good.
Right now, the only people around here are us.
Serena was smiling, but that smile didn’t reach her eyes.
Crap, I might have went a little too far.
“Hey, you were the one who told me to challenge you alone. I boldly rose up to your challenge, and now you, a Demon King’s General, is attacking me, the one with the weakest class, with numbers on your side. Don’t you think it’s unfa—”
“Shut the fuck up!!”
Serena interrupted me with a sudden outburst.
“How dare you! You sure enjoyed yourself spreading all those rumours about me, didn’t you!?”
She glared at me with bloodshot eyes.
“H-Hey, wait! As promised, I didn’t tell anyone about your true identity, so those rumours that I paid the blonde-haired delinquent to spread shouldn’t matter—”
“As if! Of all things, you had to spread the rumour that I’m actually a man! You even mixed in bits of truth like how my voice occasionally breaks…! Thanks to you, several people even asked me about it directly! There were even a few who said they’d prefer it if I was a man… Just what is wrong with this town!? You bastard… I’ll fucking kill you!”
She started waving her hands and chanting…
Noticing an old man passing by, I hastily interjected.
“Hey, someone’s watching!”
“Kcht…! G-Good morning. The weather is quite nice today, isn’t it?”
“Oh, Serena-san. Good morning. Yes, the weather is pretty good today.”
As expected of the much revered Serena-sama.
It seems like she’s familiar with that man.
As Serena started making small talk with that man, the adventurers around her stared blankly into space.
Well, this ain’t good. A Demon King’s General snapped.
She’s the general in charge of schemes and whatnot, so I expected her to go about things in a more roundabout way, but to think that she’d demonstrate her power in the middle of the town… What should I do?
Fighting her and her puppeted entourage head on.
No, that’s impossible. Most likely, I wouldn’t last a full minute.
Serena seems to be wrapping up her conversation, and the man seems like he’s about to make his leave.
“Then, allow me to cast a spell of protection on you for your safe journey…”
“Ah, thank you very much.”
Should I make a run for the police station?
No, I might have the Escape skill, but if Serena casts her buffs on the adventurers surrounding her, it’s not impossible for them to catch up to me.
Just then, Serena raised both hands to her chest and took up a pose like she was offering a prayer.
I knew a chance when I saw one.
“Then, safe journeys upon yo—”
Just as Serena was casting her spell on the passerby.
I thrust my hand towards the ground directly beneath her feet and unleashed a strong gust of air from it.
As I did so, her robe flew all the way up to her head, and she, with her hands around her chest, could do nothing to stop that.
I’m really lucky that she’s wearing her usual mature-seeming long skirt.
After confirming that her robe was fully above her head, I took out my wire from my pocket and aimed at her torso.
A muffled voice sounded out from within the robe.
With my Bind, I’ve secured her robe over her head.
Normally, this skill would only be useful for buying time, but in this case…!
“Serena-sama is all bundled up!?”
Seeing Serena bundled up with nothing between her waist and her ankles but a set of panties seem to have momentarily jolted the adventurers back to their senses.
“Aahh, thank the gods. What a divinely shaped ass…”
The person Serena was talking to fell to his knees in awe and stared intently at her panties.
“Hey, wait, sto—!”
Serena struggled within her robes, but the wire I used was the mithril wire I commissioned for use against monstrous targets.
She might be a Demon King’s General, but she’s still a human. It’s not something she can struggle her way out of.
“Aah! Serena-sama… Serena-sama’s ass is in broad daylight…”
“Hey! Hide it! Form a wall! Hide her from view!”
“T-To think that Serena-sama wears black panties… I need to remember this…”
Despite having mostly returned to their senses, the adventurers around Serena still formed a circle around her to hide her from view.
It doesn’t seem like Serena’s strong enough to dispel my Bind like Aqua.
An angry-sounding voice emerged from underneath the robe. It seems like she’s no longer able to maintain her facade.
“Damn you Satou Kazuma! Don’t think you’ll get away with this! Once I get out of here…!”
Well, I don’t know what will happen once she does, so to buy myself a little bit more time, I took a deep breath.
And shouted to the world.
“Oh no! The great Serena-sama is right here with her bottom exposed!”
“So you’ve come to visit again, Satou-dono.”
“I’ve come to visit again, Chief.”
A female knight was staring at me from the far side of a small desk.
Indeed, I’m being interrogated yet again.
As the prime suspect in the Serena panties exposure incident, I was once again detained at the police station.
Yeah, I suppose they won’t be able to overlook that kind of ruckus.
Her adventurers couldn’t tear through her robes, and I put my all into that Bind, so it wouldn’t wear off for quite some time.
The people who were attracted by my cries formed a crowd around her and made the place seem as lively as a marketplace.
And the police who came to investigate the commotion once again brought me into custody…
The female knight let out a sigh.
“Satou-dono, allow me to be frank. You’re a nuisance.”
“Even if you tell me that, I’m not exactly doing this because I want to…”
—After I’ve been caught, the police sent a couple of people to meet with Darkness.
However, apparently, she said that she wouldn’t bail me out anymore.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have teased her in front of this knight the last time I was here.
“… This time, that priest submitted an official report. Even if you have Lady Dustiness’s favour, it’d be hard for her to bail you out this time. Someone far higher ranked than her would have to vouch for you, otherwise…”
“Yeah, I suppose so.”
Relying on Darkness so often wouldn’t sit very well with me either.
Even if she bailed me out again, I’ll most likely end up back here again before long.
After hearing my reply, the knight let out another sigh.
And then, tossing away the serious demeanour she has shown me all this while, she rested her forehead upon the desk and started grumbling.
“Argh, dammit! Why were you caught so easily!? You could’ve easily escaped from us if you would’ve just put up a bit more resistance!?”
“Is that something a police chief should really be saying?”
The knight slowly raised her head at my words.
“In the first place, what is that woman? All those people who saw her underwear ended up as her fervent supporters. Sure, she has a good body. In this town that’s filled with weirdos, she’s a rare sensible person… But even so, the pace at which she’s getting new converts is really strange. What, is it really her panties? Just by showing people your panties, you’ll get people to become your fans? Could even a hardheaded fool like me get a few fans if I flash my panties here and there for a bit? I know this town is a little out there, but still… Ah, dammit, if that’s the case, I might as well…!”
“Wait, all those people there ended up as her followers? Just by seeing her panties? I mean, sure, if there’s a religious organization where the lady priests show us their panties, I’d love to join it, but…”
Something feels off again.
The men of this town pretty much all make frequent use of the succubus service. Just seeing her panties wouldn’t…
Well, sure, it’s natural to be thankful to see such a beautiful sight, but becoming her follower just because you’ve seen her panties is….
Something’s nagging at me.
Regina is the Goddess of Vengeance. Could it be that… Hmm…
That adventurer who was grievously wounded a few days ago.
He ended up joining Serena’s posse after his wounds were healed by her.
Sure, it might be natural to end up being her follower after getting healed of such grievous wounds.
However, if I recall, he was one of the adventurers who got revived by Aqua in the past.
Her daily behaviour doesn’t exactly make her out to be some sort of goddess deserving of worship, but as far as her healing skills are concerned, Aqua should’ve been far more highly regarded.
It feels like I’m close to putting my finger on something, but I just can’t narrow it down.
Yunyun went to consult with Serena, but her problem wasn’t resolved, and she kept her senses.
And the people who saw Serena’s panties thanks to me ended up becoming her followers.
In other words…
“Satou-dono! Don’t just space out! Answer my question! You know about that woman’s secret, right!? Now, come on, out with it!”
“AAAAAAAAAH! WHAT THE HELL!? I was just on the verge of figuring it out! Why the hell must you interrupt me at the crucial point, you left-on-the-shelf knight!?”
“Ah, you actually said it! It’s not like we female knights don’t date because we don’t want to! Having children would be detrimental to our mission, so we’re just waiting for a wonderful man who would understand… Don’t cover your ears, Satou-dono! Listen to me! And if you’re going to call me left-on-the-shelf, at least introduce me to someone decent…!”
Blocking out the words of the knight who was screaming about something while shaking the table, I tried to go back to my train of thought.
In order for Serena to turn people into her puppets, they must need to be grateful or feel like they owe her in some way, or something of that sort.
That means that in order to break them out of that state…
Aqua might be able to solve it with her Break Spell, but if her identity was revealed to Serena in the process, that’d be checkmate. I can’t take that chance.
… But before I can focus on this.
“Satou-dono! I don’t care about his personality, as long as he has a somewhat modest income… The important thing is being able to do housework! A house husband would be best. Apart from that, telling me, ‘I love you,’ once every day—”
“Say, chief, can I make a request of you?”
“… What is it?”
The knight who was going on about something weird suddenly turned sullen for some reason.
“I would like to send a letter. Money is no object, I just need to send a letter to an acquaintance in the capital. Express, of course.”
“Now then, Satou-sama, please take care. If you ever find yourself in trouble, please feel free to rely on us.”
The day after I sent out the letter.
The knight gave me a crisp salute similar to the one she gave Darkness a few days ago as she was sending me off.
It’s quite impressive how much her personality has changed over the past day.
She seems to be giving me the same sort of treatment she would give a high-ranking noble.
Well, that’s probably because of the letter I had hastily written getting delivered to those two women in the capital…
“To think that Satou-sama is connected to not only the Dustiness family, but the Symphonia family as well… And for that Claire-sama to write back with specific instructions not to give you any cause for offense… This is the first time I’ve seen that happen.”
I sent the letter to the two nobles who served as bodyguards for Iris, Claire and Rain.
Ever since the two of them replied, the stiff attitude that this knight showed me has completely vanished.
She displayed an amazing smile while shaking my hand.
“I wondered what happened when Rain-dono appeared here in tears while bearing Claire-sama’s letter… You really are a playboy, Satou-sama! Not just Lady Dustiness, but even Claire-sama and Rain-dono…!”
“Err, well… That’s not quite the case, but nevermind…”
It’s almost to the point where I want to ask who the hell she is.
It seems like she’s under the impression that I’m close friends with Rain and Claire.
In that letter, I wrote that I recovered my memory, and I’ll soon be paying them a visit to give my thanks for that incident.
And, as a postscript, I added that I have fallen into quite a spot of trouble, and it would help me if they would provide a document with their signature on it. That’s all.
Upon hearing about my situation from the person who delivered the letter, the two of them immediately agreed to become my guarantor. Or so I’ve heard.
“… By the way, where are those two right now? I would like to give them my regards.”
“Claire-sama said that she’d be taking a vacation at a hidden villa starting today, so she wouldn’t be in the capital even if you went there. Rain-dono was handling the paperwork for your release, but the moment she was done, she used Teleport and disappeared off somewhere.”
Oh, so they are that afraid of me, huh?
I followed the knight to the entrance of the police station.
The other policemen gave me pitch perfect salutes as I passed by.
The female knight put her arms behind her back and leaned forwards with a smile on her face.
“Satou-sama, from now on, we’ll turn a blind eye to any happenings in town, so feel free to tease or investigate or do whatever else you want to that priest!”
Is this town okay?
“You know, you said you looked up to Darkness and stuff a few days ago, so I thought you’d be a more inflexible person…”
“A great noble like her would be able to have her pick of any handsome noble scion she wishes, but despite that, she chooses to be alone. We nobles who are similarly alone look up towards her and admire her for that… Come to think of it, Satou-sama, in addition to having such amazing contacts, you also have fame and a mansion, right?… Not only that, but you have a fortune that would put several nobles to shame, no?”
“… I-I suppose…”
“I’m Aloerina, 23, single, the surprisingly devoted type, and pretty amazing when the lights go—”
“Well, I have to go! Thank you for your hospitality! I’ll repay you someday!”
I get the distinct feeling that nothing good will happen if I were to linger here, so I hurriedly left the police station.
—I was momentarily blinded by the morning sun upon leaving the police station.
Was it because of the time I spent in that dark detention cell?
I couldn’t see clearly due to the glare, but even so, my eyes were drawn towards a certain figure standing outside.
Long flowing blue hair that shimmered in the morning sun.
A blue hagoromo that gave off a gentle seeming aura.
Standing right there was a person I hadn’t seen in a long time, cheerfully waving at me with a bright smile upon her face.
It’s almost like she’s welcoming home a friend she hadn’t seen in a long time.
“Welcome home, Kazuma! Thank you for your hard work!”
I told her to hole herself up within the mansion. Why is it that she never listens to a word I say?
Still, I am a little happy to see her.
Just a little.
She might not know the full story, but she still came out to greet me upon my release even knowing that it’s dangerous outside the mansion.
With a smile in my heart, I headed towards her…
“Say, with this, you’ve been in the care of the police for more times than I’ve been, right? You can’t call me an ex-convict anymore, can you!? Say, how does it feel, Kazuma-san who called the police on me when I took over the mansion? The same Kazuma-san who called me ex-convict who knows how many times after that? So how does it feel? How do you feel now!?”
This little bitch!
“Hey, you didn’t wait for me here just because of a stupid reason like that, did you!? Don’t screw with me! Why do you think I spent so much time in the care of the police!? In the first place, I got arrested in the process of protecting the peace of the town! Don’t compare it to the petty crime you did, you Goddess of Criminals!”
“Waaah! How could you say that?! You’ll get divine punishment, you shitty NEET! Why don’t you tell me the reason why you ended up in the care of the police so many times!? Come on, say it! If your conscience is clean, then why don’t you come out and say it!?”
Dammit, I haven’t seen her in a while, and all I want to do is to smack her upside the head!
I wouldn’t be struggling so much if I could say it!
Actually, we are talking about that bloodlusted Serena here. It wouldn’t be surprising if she attacked us right now.
Speaking bluntly, even if the worst happened, as long as Aqua is fine, she’d be able to do something about it with her Resurrection.
Well, that’s just as a last resort, but still.
Perhaps because they are both priests, Serena does seem to have her eye on Aqua, so it’s best to get her home as quickly as possible.
While making sushing motions with my hands, I said.
“Argh, fine, I did it because I couldn’t stand that priest, alright? There’s no other reason in particular, so hurry up and get back inside the mansion. What happened to Darkness and Megumin anyway? I told them to keep an eye on you.”
“Those two were caught in my certain kill party trick, the type 100 mist! Once activated, it’d last for at least half a day before fading. Actually, they just got bored after holing up in the mansion for so long. Being a NEET and spending all day indoors gets old really quickly. You’re being so unfair, Kazuma. You’ve been staying outside all this while, right? I want to go to a slumber party too. Take me with you.”
It looks like this idiot plans to follow me even though she hadn’t the slightest idea what I’ve been up to.
Her certain kill party trick sort of intrigues me, but right now, the most important thing is what to do with her.
… Well, before any of that, I should get a meal.
The portions they provide at the police station isn’t much.
I can think about how to persuade Aqua while we are having a meal…
With that in mind, I took Aqua with me and wandered around town for a bit to find a good restaurant.
The group I’d hate the most to run into right now appeared right in front of me.
“Yo, aren’t you early, Satou Kazuma. I’ve been waiting… You have your companion with you today? Well, no matter. Let’s settle our score, Kazuma. I’m almost boiling over with rage right now!”
Serena, looking at me with bloodshot eyes, her original gentle demeanour nowhere to be seen, and her entourage of adventurers—
“Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san! What is going on!? Why are those people chasing us!? I don’t think I’ve done anything… I can think of a few reasons why they might be chasing us, but why!?”
“Properly apologize when they regain their senses! Dammit, how many people did she turn into her followers while I was in jail!? No one is taking notice even all the ruckus we’ve been causing!”
Aqua and I were running through the town.
There were about ten adventurers chasing us, but none of the people in town even raised an eyebrow upon seeing us tear a path through it.
I’ve managed to stay ahead of them thanks to Aqua’s buffs, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m cornered.
… In the first place.
“I thought she was more of a schemer! Doing this just because I teased her a little is way too rash! Her actions are getting more and more overboard!”
She at least bothered to keep things out of the public eye when she attacked me the other day, but now she’s not even trying.
She must be pretty confident in how thorough her brainwashing of this town is if she’s willing to act so brazenly.
Aqua, half-crying as she ran next to me, screamed.
“Hey, I thought you were arrested for sexual harassment! Just what did you do to that priest to make someone as gentle as her so mad!?”
“Nothing much! I just froze her inside a house with no toilet, spread some strange rumours about her, and called a lot of people to see her when her panties were visible for about an hour, that’s all!”
“You can’t complain if she kills you over that!”
I purposefully toppled the merchant display stores I ran past, creating obstacles behind me to slow my pursuers down.
Several angry voices called out after me as I ran, but I didn’t have the time to apologize and offer compensation to each and every store owner.
I have no idea how many people have been puppeted.
With Serena pursuing me so boldly through the streets, it’s best to think that most people on the streets are my enemy.
Thus, I naturally avoided the crowds and went through the less crowded areas.
Even though she had no idea what was going on, Aqua still followed me without any hesitation.
This isn’t good. If anything were to happen to her, I won’t be able to get revived.
Should I send her off to the police station on her own?
Or should we keep running towards the mansion like this…
“Hey, Aqua, do you sense anything when you look at these people!? You wiped out the curse on Darkness’s dad in a snap back then, didn’t you!? Can’t you sense any evil power at work here!?”
“My divine eyes tell me that the most evil existence in this town is the man running next to me!”
Just when I’m considering tripping her and using that opportunity to run away, a triumphant voice called out from behind me.
“The only path ahead of you leads to a dead end, Satou Kazuma! Did you not notice the arrangement of the people on the streets!? It’s all to lead you to a deserted area. The only thing ahead of you is…!”
Indeed, the only thing around this corner is a dead end with a high wall blocking any progress.
Anyone would know this after spending enough time in this town.
“Hey, Aqua, they’ll catch up at this rate! Crouch down below the wall and fling me over it! I’ll pull you up once I’m on top! We’ll be able to escape that way.”
“I see, what a wonderful idea! Then, Kazuma, why don’t you fling me over!? I’ll pull you up once I get on top of the wall!”
Aqua said that without blinking.
After spending so much time together, it’s obvious to the both of us what we had in mind.
As Aqua and I rounded the corner at the same time…
“Pant… Pant… H-Have you finally given up, Satou Kazuma…! Y-You’ve got a pretty good priest there… Pant… Pant… That’s some pretty powerful… Support spells… Pant… Pant…”
Serena breathlessly said upon seeing us stopping, as she tried to catch her breath.
Then, it seems like she finally noticed.
We didn’t stop because we gave up.
Serena followed our gaze.
Standing right there was…
“Welcome! We have been awaiting you, dear customers! The weather is nice today, so Moi and the shopkeeper have decided to set up an open air store here!”
“Ah, welcome! It’s just like Vanir-san said, we’ve gotten customers even in such a place!”
Wiz and Vanir, their goods spread out upon a rug right at the end of a dead alley.
—I don’t want to deal with this all-seeing Devil anymore.
“Hey, what are you selling? … Actually, are you okay? Smoke is coming out from your head, you know?”
“Vanir-san went off the handle just now, saying ’I just got rid of the Bug Killerin, and you brought in another bunch of weird stuff!’… But don’t worry, Aqua-sama. I just drank some sugar water earlier, so my body will automatically heal up. Even if the worst comes to worst, I can just drink some water from anywhere… Ah, Aqua-sama, that’s Vanir-san’s recommended item for the day.”
Aqua squatted next to Wiz and started picking through the products on display.
While the two of them were having a casual conversation,
“Hey, Vanir, what’s the meaning of this? Are you still not satisfied after taking all the money I had on hand?”
“Did you pull the strings behind the scene this time? No, actually, what are you doing setting up shop at the end of a dead alley that I got chased into? Just how much did you forsee this time?”
Serena and I hounded Vanir.
The members of Serena’s entourage who were chasing us are currently standing by a short distance away from us.
Vanir responded with a laugh.
“Fuhahahaha! Now, now, there’s no need to be so angry, you two. Right now, my job is to earn money, so Moi shall appear at any place that smells of money. Worry not, Moi has prepared items that would be of great benefit to the both of you. So, would you like to take a look?”
Leaving Vanir aside, there’s no way we can start fighting in front of Wiz.
Serena and I looked at each other and wordlessly agreed on a temporary truce.
… No, wait, in this situation, couldn’t I just throw our deal out the window and clue Wiz in on what’s going on?
With Vanir, Wiz, and the goddess Aqua here, there’s a decent chance that it’ll work out in my favour.·
The problem is that I’m not entirely certain who Vanir and Wiz would end up siding with.
We might be on fairly good terms, but I have no idea what their relationship with Serena is. The only thing I know is that they used to be co-workers.
In the past, Wiz got really angry when she learnt that another Demon King’s general, Hans, had laid a hand on another person.
I recall her saying something about Hans breaking some sort of agreement she made with the Demon King…
Still, I have no idea how she would react in this situation.
She might be one in name only, but she’s still a General of the Demon King.
Though, it’s probably safe to say that those two wouldn’t work together with Serena to attack this town—
“Hey, don’t think of doing anything strange now. Let’s make a truce for today.”
Seemingly understanding what is currently going through my head, Serena whispered into my ear.
… Dealing with an intelligent enemy like her is really annoying.
“Now, now, you two, stop standing there whispering to each other and give my products a look. Even without using my all-seeing gaze, Moi is certain that there’ll be something that’ll have the two of you jumping for joy.”
Serena and I shot Vanir a doubtful gaze after hearing his suspicious sounding invitation.
Unfazed by it, Vanir brought out a piece of paper.
“First is this! This is a contract that states that Moi will not interfere no matter what you’re plotting in this town—”
Serena snatched away the piece of paper before Vanir could finish his sentence.
Come to think of it, Vanir did promise to keep her personal information a secret because of her status as his customer, but he didn’t promise not to get in her way.
Devils like Vanir seem to place a high amount of importance on contracts.
Dammit, if I had known, I would’ve snatched it for myself…
“Say, Vanir, I can definitely pay a higher price for that than her, so would you mind selling that to me?”
Upon hearing my words, Serena triumphantly said.
“Hey, hey, this is a first come, first served sort of thing. Vanir, how much is this?”
“All of my money again!? I only just managed to save up this much, you piece of shit!”
Serena angrily shouted as she threw her wallet at Vanir.
“Thank you for your patronage~!”
… Oh, right.
“Oh, yeah, Serena, you still owe me some money, don’t you!? Pay me back right now! You were the one who said you’d face me as a Demon King’s General if I challenge you alone! It’d be something else if you face me one on one, but if you are going to break your promise and send a bunch of guys after me, then pay me back right now! … Hehehe, with this, you’ll have to return what you just bought from Vanir, right?”
“Y-You bastard… Dammit. Hey, you!”
Serena called out to one of her adventurers.
With a blank gaze, the man approached Serena.
“Give me some money… There, will this do!?”
Serena snatched the wallet from that adventurer and handed it over to me.
Dammit, I guess that was too naive of me.
… Hmm, wait.
“… ? … Huh? W-What am I doing here…?”
The adventurer who got his wallet taken regained his senses for a moment, and Serena clicked her tongue upon seeing that.
… Well, isn’t that interesting.
“Umm, can I have a moment?”
In a cheerful tone, Serena called out to the adventurer.
“That’s odd. I’m pretty sure I was… Ah, what is it, Serena-san? Why are you holding the hem of your skirt…”
As he was saying that, Serena, blushingly, lifted her own skirt and gave the adventurer a good view of what’s going on underneath.
“Umm… What do you think after seeing this?”
“Thank you very much! Thank you very much! Thank you ver…y…”
The man looked utterly elated for a moment, but soon, his expression was replaced with the same blank one that the others had.
… Oh, this is very interesting indeed.
“Oh, did you see that? That priest that looks so refined actually did something like that! What a pervert!”
“Celestina-san… You always were a little boorish, but when did you become so bold…”
“Celestina? Do you know that priest?”
Seeing Serena’s actions, Aqua and Wiz gleefully gossiped like old housewives.
Serena herself ignored the two of them, instead seeming more annoyed that I seemed to have picked up on the man’s behaviour as she turned back to Vanir.
“Hey, Vanir, with this, you won’t get in my way anymore, right? I can take this as a contract, right?”
“Indeed, we have made a contract. Worry not, we devils absolutely will not break a contract. … Now, boy.”
Yes, it really does seem like you need to feel like you owe something to Serena in order to become puppeted by her.
Thus, if you feel as though that debt was repaid in some way, whatever form it takes, her control over you will be broken.
Just like what happened to that man when Serena took his wallet.
The reason why Serena flashed her panties to him is most likely due to the boom in followers she experienced after that incident with my Bind.
It’s definitely not a bad method to quickly turn someone into her puppet.
“Hey, boy, Moi is about to recommend some products to you.”
… Hmm, but, come to think of it.
The people who were already her puppets came to their senses for a brief moment upon seeing her panties back then.
Why would that happen?
“… Hey, boy who’s been staying outside as of late to enjoy a certain service that gives him visions of the two girls back at the mansion and pretty much all the women present right—”
“Yes, yes, show me the goods! What do you want me to buy, Vanir!? My wallet is quite full right now, so I’ll buy anything you have to offer!”
Ignoring Serena, who was giving me an extremely disdainful gaze, I moved to examine the items that Vanir prepared…
“… What’s this?”
“This case contains the ‘Useless Potions Series’ that this worthless shopkeeper bought in the past.”
You just said it’s useless.
“For instance, this is the Stats Up Potion (Changed). It’s made from a regular stats up potion, and is more effective than its regular counterparts.”
“… And its side effects?”
“As it increases one of your stats, its paired stat will decrease.”
… Paired stat?
“So, what would happen if I drink it?”
“Your strength will increase tremendously, but in return, your intelligence will decrease.”
“It might be pretty useful for a frontline combat class that doesn’t require much intelligence to do their job…”
I rotated the potion in my hand and mused out loud. At the same time, Serena stared thoughtfully at the bottle.
“So, how much is this reduction in intelligence?”
“It would definitely end up lower than this boy’s blue-haired priest.”
I returned the potion to the case.
“Then what about these? The first part of Forbidden Potions Series! This potion will allow you to draw the ire of monsters for the rest of your life when you drink it! Perfect for earning experience points! Or this one that’ll raise your magic power in exchange for killing your hair follicles! Or this one that’ll reduce your magic to zero but raise your levels by leaps and bounds! Or this potion that attracts the opposite sex but make you smell like a goblin? Or this level reset potion that’s perfect for masochists who would wish to relieve their harsh training?”
“They are all defective products! I don’t need them!”
Just as I reflexively interjected,
“Or this potion that cures the Puppet status effect?”
Vanir casually offered an item that’d be extremely useful to me right now.
“Oh, that seem to have caught both your interest. This is a potion that cures the unique status ailment ‘Puppet’. That said, that’s a very rare status effect that no extant monsters can inflict. As far as Moi is aware, the only one that can inflict it right now is a minor Dark Goddess…”
“Don’t refer to Regina-sama as a minor Dark Goddess!”
Ignoring the angry Serena, I took the potion from Vanir’s hands.
“Is this the only bottle you have?”
In response, Vanir jabbed his finger towards Wiz.
Right there, rows upon rows of potions are displayed on the mat that Aqua is currently crouched in front of.
Dammit. Sure, it’s a great help and all, but I can’t help but feel frustrated that we’ve all been dancing in the palm of Vanir’s hand all this time.
She might be my enemy, but Serena probably feels the same way.
Staring at those potions, Serena bitterly said.
“… Didn’t you make a contract not to get in my way?”
“Fuhahahahaha, the all-seeing devil so declares! Even if these potions fall into this boy’s hands, they will not get in your way! In fact, there will come a day when you’ll be deeply thankful that this boy has these potions on hand. Now, boy, the Forbidden potion series, and that Puppet curing potion I just gave you is a free service! Now, here comes the main event! How much are you willing to pay for a case of those potions over there…!”
Letting out an ecstatic laugh, Vanir once again moved towards the case of potions…
“Ah, Aqua-sama, what are you doing? Those potions might not be of much use now, but Vanir-san has been carefully preparing them since morning. You shouldn’t stick your finger in them.”
“Nevermind that, you’re starting to turn a little see through, you know? Have you been taking in enough water? It’s great that you have so many useless potions right now. Here, I’ve turned them all into clean water, so douse yourself with them and cool off.”
“Sorry, Aqua-sama. Thank you very much… But Aqua-sama’s divine power is making me sort of numb…”
… …. …
The three of us fell silent upon seeing what Wiz and Aqua are doing.
Out of all of them, Vanir, after spending so much effort to get us dancing to his tune, naturally stiffened upon seeing that.
This really isn’t a laughing matter, but for some reason, Serena and I let out a chuckle at the same time.
“Fuhahaha! Fuhahaha! Moi has really overlooked you this time! Moi should’ve taken care of this goddess of toilets a long time ago!”
“Do it if you think you can, you Masked Devil! I don’t know what kind of goods you were trying to sell to our Kazuma, but aren’t you embarrassed at all to lose your temper just because things aren’t going your way? Are you really a Great Devil? Is your title self proclaimed? How do you feel after having your products ruined? Come on, tell me! It’s really amazing! Kususu! Fukususu!”
<TL Note: Kusukusu (クスクス) is the onomatopoeia for a snickering, teasing sort of laughter, the kind you’d expect a clique of cool girls to be having behind the dork’s back. If you know of a good english equivalent, contact me.>
… … …
“Vanir Style Death Ray!”
—I jabbed my thumb towards the unfolding commotion behind me sighed.
“… Hey, what should we do about those two?”
“… Why are you asking me? In the first place, just what is that priest to be able to fight with Vanir like that?”
Technically, she’s a goddess. Technically.
Wiz, seemingly having been caught in the crossfire, fell charred and smoking to the ground.
Serena heaved a sigh.
“Well, the only one who could’ve stopped them got taken out instantly, so there’s really nothing we can do. I’m not considered particularly strong amongst the Generals… Aah, this feels really stupid. Doesn’t seem like anything good will come out of tangling with you… There are too many strange folks hanging around you. Other than Vanir and that priest who’s currently fighting him to a standstill, you also know a lot of other dangerous people, don’t you?”
I can’t deny that.
There’s the proudly crazy girl back home, everyone back in the Crimson Demon Village, and the strongest step-sister in the world, just to start with.
Perhaps sensing something from my expression, Serena went “Uwah…” and cringed a little.
“Sigh… Oh, fine, I give up on this town. Truth be told, I underestimated you. I should’ve come at you with full force right from the start.”
Saying that, Serena heaved yet another sigh.
Her gloomy gaze has been focused on Aqua and Vanir fighting all this while.
… Well, I can understand where she’s coming from.
Even I wouldn’t have taken such a ridiculous bunch seriously as opponents.
“You bitch of a goddess, Moi shall have you compensate me for all the potions you rendered useless today!”
“Ahahaha! Devil who believes that everything moves according to his plans, only to get his hopes dashed at the last moment every single time! I shall not compensate you! In fact, I turned your useless potions into Aqua’s beautiful and delicious water, so if anything, you should be paying me!”
“Don’t you dare imitate me! Those lines are my trademark! That is it! Moi shall beat you black and blue and take every last coin you have!”
… Yeah, I can understand where she’s coming from.
Well, I’d be fine if things ended here.
After all, I did already avenge Aqua for what she suffered the other day.
… … …
I didn’t kick her because Aqua was depressed or anything.
I didn’t pick a fight with a Demon King’s General just because Aqua seemed uncharacteristically sad.
It has nothing to do with that good for nothing goddess. I did that to resolve the unpleasant feelings in my stomach, that’s all.
As I repeated that to myself, I said to Serena.
“Then we’ve reached an understanding, right? Just to say it again, I have absolutely no interest in the Demon King, so there’s no need to treat me as a threat. To be honest, even if you tell me that the Demon King and humanity are at war over the state of the world and whatnot, when I’m living in such a peaceful town, it really doesn’t resonate with me at all. Seriously, if you leave me alone, I won’t cause any trouble for you.”
“Yes, yes, I get it. I’ll tell the Demon King that neither you nor this town is worthy of his attention, so there’s no need to worry so much about them. And I’ll leave this town too. That’ll be fine, right?”
I let out a breath I’ve been holding.
“Right, then, we have a deal… Sigh. You said you weren’t strong amongst the Generals, but even then, I was really breaking out into cold sweat while facing you. In the first place, rather than charging right at someone with the weakest class like me, a General should act like one and come up with some grander schemes…”
I started grumbling about all the worries that have piled up over the last few nerve-wracking days.
“Well, I didn’t have it easy either. Though I don’t really care about any of it now… Sigh, I’m not looking forward to this… This might be the end of your part in this, but I still need to report to the Demon King afterwards.”
With an exasperated look on her face as she gazed upon the goddess and devil fighting, Serena started grumbling as well.
“Either convince you to join us, or kill you. Those were my original orders regarding you… Well, I’ll tell you something. The truth is, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to clashing with you either. I’ll forget about how you exposed me in front of half the town, so you forget about a bunch of things too, alright?”
“Yeah, yeah. After this, we are both even, okay?”
Serena produced a small smoking pipe and what appeared to be tobacco from the folds of her robe.
After lighting it with a very familiar item, she took a deep draught from it before turning to me.
“With this, you won’t be targeted by the Demon King’s army anymore. Oh, one more thing, your companion. She was called Megumin, wasn’t she? There was a pretty large bounty on her head too, so I’ll get rid of that for you.”
Seriously? When did that happen?
Though, she’ll probably be happy if she learnt that the Demon King’s army put a bounty on her head…
“Oh, please do that. Oh, wait, wouldn’t I have something like that too? If I have a bounty on my head, please take care of that too.”
“Yes, yes, leave it to me. I’ll handle it.”
Serena exhaled a cloud of smoke in a somewhat annoyed manner before bringing the pipe to her lips again.
“… Sigh. You know, you could be a little more thankful to me, right?”
Her gaze was still squarely focused on Aqua and Vanir as she said that.
“Oh, yeah, thank you. But, leaving me aside, just what were you planning to do in this town anyway. This is just a town of beginners…”
… Wait a minute.
What’s with this strange sensation?
“…You finally said it.”
Serena still hasn’t turned to look at me.
She said that while breathing out a cloud of purple smoke.
… I said it? … What did I say?
Why is my body feeling so strange…? And my head is feeling floaty…
“My, my, you really are something. You already figured out how my power works, right? You might be the first one to get this close to figuring out the true form of my power.”
… Oh shit… You dirty little…!
I let my guard down because Vanir and Aqua were fighting like usual…
“You wanted to know what I’m planning in a town of beginners like this, right? There, there, I’ll tell you all about it, so be thankful to me, okay? You asked, so of course I’ll answer. I listened to you request, so you’ll owe me for this, right?”
Hey, stop! Don’t say anything more!
I wanted to say that, but not a single word came out of my mouth.
It’s not just my mouth, my entire body has gotten really sluggish.
“You coward! Stop using Wiz as a shield! … Hey, actually, don’t you think Wiz has gotten really see through right now?”
“Then you stop throwing around purification spells! … No, no, this is taking things too far. That’s a warning sign. At this rate, the storekeeper will vanish for real.”
“W-W-What should we do!? Really, what do we do!? If I cast healing on her, she’ll just vanish faster!”
“There’s some sugar water in that bag over there, so let the storekeeper drink some. This usually works out. She’ll spring right back like a snake after shedding its skin… probably.”
Vanir and Aqua are currently panicking over a Wiz that became almost completely transparent.
At that instant.
—Serena finally turned to face me.
A triumphant grin was plastered across her face.
“The truth is, the army will dispatch a division to this town not to long in the future. But, well, this town is the town furthest away from the front lines. There’s no way we can march an entire army all over the country to this town. Thus, only a small amount of units are scheduled to be sent here through Teleport. But, well, for a town of beginners, that is more than enough.”
Hey, stop! Don’t say anymore!
“Do you know the fallen angel, Duke? He went missing around this town a while ago.”
Oh, right, that’s the guy who was saying something about becoming a Demon King’s General and challenged Wiz only to get taken out.
“It seems like you do. Could it be that you took care of him too? Well, we received a message from him before he disappeared, warning us to be wary of you.”
That bastard. He actually did such a thing.
Though, yeah, he did say something like that. Something about this town becoming a priority target or something.
So the reason this town is getting attacked is because of me?
No, I couldn’t care less about that right now. If I hear anything more, it’d really be bad.
“Ah, don’t get the wrong idea. This town has been a target for quite some time. Even before the Generals started disappearing and high bounty targets started getting taken out.”
I couldn’t control my body very well right now, but I still forced those words from my mouth.
I know that if Serena tells me her big secret, the puppeting process would just progress further.
I know that, but…
“Because this is the town of fledging adventurers. Because this is the town of beginnings. I might be a Demon King’s General, but I’m still a human. I even used to be an adventurer, you know? And of course, when I first started as an adventurer, I was directed to this town. Everyone picked up their first quest here. This is the town of beginners, Axel. The weakest monsters all over the world are purposely cultivated and given a breeding population here. A town specifically meant to raise newbie adventurers.”
It’d be like the starting town in a game.
It’s supposed to be a town for beginners, but for some reason, I’ve been through a lot of hardship in this town.
“Then, what would happen if this place were to be destroyed? Goblins might be known as a staple training target, but even their rusty blades are dangerous to newbie adventurers fresh out of the gates. Giant frogs can be taken down as long as you get enough people on your side, and the only place where they breed is here. If this town didn’t exist, exactly where would newbie adventurers go to train?”
… I see.
“Do you get it? Apart from a few exceptions like the Crimson Demons with their mysterious training method, all famous adventurers had their start in this very town. They raise their levels here before setting off towards other towns. Unless they have some special reason, most adventurers will stay in this town until they gain quite a few levels under their belt. And those people will eventually end up facing off against us.”
I can’t hear any more of this…
“Now that the people bearing strange names have stopped showing up, if this town disappears too, the recruitment of adventurers will cease entirely… You know of the strongest of the Demon King’s Generals? The Demon King’s daughter? She’s currently planning a large scale attack on the fortresses along the frontlinew and the capital. That will surely cause significant casualties amongst the adventurers… And, if those guys who are desperately holding the line and awaiting new reinforcements were to hear that the training ground of new adventurers, the town of Axel is destroyed….”
… Their morale would naturally take a huge blow.
In this world that’s crawling with monsters, who knows how many years it would take to rebuild a town?
Aah… My consciousness is going…
“… I guess you’re nearing your limit. This power isn’t a curse. No matter what kind of person you are, there’s no way you can resist it. Especially not a man like you. But don’t worry. If I give you an order you really hate, you’ll still be able to resist. It might cause you great pain, though. But it’s you we are talking about. I’m sure you won’t simply lay back and submit to being my puppet… Now, let me enjoy finding out exactly how much you will resist my orders…!”
Serena happily laughed.
And at long last, my thoughts ceased entirely…
—At the very edge of my consciousness, I heard Serena’s gentle voice.
“Now, listen very closely… You feel something at the depths of your heart, don’t you? That’s all the humiliation, injustice, and ridicule you’ve suffered… Think back. You’ve been looked down on by the inhabitants of this town, right? Have you ever been laughed at for having the weakest job? Have your companions ever slowed you down or gotten in your way?”
Those words flowed sweetly into my chest.
“Yes, why do you have to always clean up after everyone? There’s no need to hold it in any longer. Throw away your restraints, your common sense, your morality, your conscience. Throw them all away… Now, it’s time to take your revenge along with me. Very soon, my friends will gather in this town. When that time comes, you will help us alongside the other puppets. Now, it’s time to take your revenge. Revenge on the inhabitants of this town, and your former companions—!”
“—Wiz, are you okay? Do you know who I am?”
“…? Aqua-sama? And Vanir-san? What’s the matter? Why are the two of you so close to me?”
“Hmm, if you don’t remember what happened, then there’s no need to worry yourself. It’s best not to force yourself to remember.”
“Y-Yeah! If you don’t remember, it’s probably best not to dwell on it.”
Aqua, squatting next to Wiz who’s laying on the ground, got to her feet and turned towards me.
“Kazuma! We should head home soon. It’s kind of scary watching Darkness and Megumin rummage around the house like bears while you were out. Let’s head home and calm those two down.”
She approached Serena-sama without any hint of wariness at all and extended a hand towards me…
… I deftly dodged Aqua’s outstretched hand.
Aqua tilted her head and gave me a confused look.
Serena-sama seemed really amused to see her like that.
She straightened her shoulders and said with a hint of laughter.
“This man said he doesn’t want to go back to you guys anymore. He wants to become my companion. Isn’t that right, Kazuma? You don’t need those potions anymore, do you? Come on, tell it to them.”
In response to Serena-sama’s words, I said.
“I’ll be of the Regina cult as of today. I’ll be working together with Serena-sama from now on, so send my regards to the rest for me.”
Serena-sama who’s walking in front of me is thinking about something.
What is she thinking about? Is something troubling her, I wonder?
… Just then, Serena-sama suddenly stopped and turned to face me.
“Say, you’re currently puppeted right now, right? You’ll do anything I say, right?”
Why would she ask me something that’s so obvious?
“Of course, Serena-sama. Even If you would order me to hold up your breasts in place of your bra for an entire day, I would happily obey.”
“A-Ah, is that so… I wouldn’t give you such a ridiculous order, so don’t worry. None of the other puppets have ever declared that they would join the Regina cult, so I just… but well, there’s no need to worry about that.”
Serena-sama turned back and continued walking.
Then, in a voice like she’s been holding this back for a long time, she whispered.
It’s a voice just soft enough to be heard by me.
“Do you know how long I have been waiting for this moment!? Do you have any idea how much shame I endured at the hands of the Demon King’s Army after Regina-sama was captured and sealed by the Crimson Demons!?”
“No, I do not.”
“Is that so? Then just stay silent and listen! A few years ago, the seal on Regina-sama was broken for some reason. And I only recently regained my powers. One day, out of the blue, the power Regina-sama gave me suddenly increased several fold! Yes, Regina-sama gave me who have been struggling for so long her blessings!”
“Isn’t that because the Regina cult was just you at that moment?”
“I told to you listen quietly! I’m in a good mood right now, so don’t ruin it!”
—After telling everyone that I joined the Regina cult.
Aqua cried and gabbered about something, but Serena let out a triumphant laugh before leading me away, and we quickly left the area.
Incidentally, I gave the puppetry curing potion to Aqua to shut her up.
It doesn’t seem like Aqua knows what that potion is, however.
Now that I’ve become Serena-sama’s devout subordinate, there’s no need for me to have such a dangerous item.
After parting ways, it seems like Serena has started looking for a new base of operations now that she gained such an excellent pawn in the form of me.
Also, it seems like she relaxed her control over the other adventurers to put more focus on me. Just in case.
She said something about control capacity or whatever.
Perhaps the number of people she could puppet at once is limited.
And if she’s putting so much effort on me, that just means she requires my abilities that badly.
As I walked behind Serena who was in a great mood, I had to ask her a burning question.
“Incidentally, Serena-sama, what’re the conditions to remove the puppet status from me?”
Serena-sama immediately stopped upon hearing my question.
“… You are really puppeted, right? Why do you need to know that information?”
She said in a harsh tone without turning back.
“It’s nothing major, but I’d be quite troubled if I were to be released from Serena-sama’s puppetry. I simply wish to keep my distance from any situations that seem like they’d be able to do so.”
I casually answered, and Serena turned back in surprise.
Eventually, she grabbed my face with both hands and stared deeply at my face.
“… You…? … Yes, I can feel the power of Regina-sama coming from you. What’s happening here? Could that be it? Did I put too much power into it and overdo the brainwashing…? Rather than ending up as a puppet, it’s more like I’ve gained a devoted underling capable of independent thought… Well, no matter. It suits my purposes just fine. Keep at it.”
“Of course, Serena-sama.”
She nodded contentedly in response to my instant reply.
“Very well, I shall tell you. This will be helpful to you too. The first is if your feelings of owing something to me were to change, but you already know that. Next is a strong faith… You know, back when you bound me up and exposed my panties to my puppets, they regained their senses for an instant, right? Those kinds of ‘stroke of good luck’ events that would make people thank their god are particularly dangerous. I don’t know what kind of god you worship, but do take note of that.”
“Don’t worry, the one I worship is Regina-sama. If something erotic were to happen as you were out doing your everyday business, the one I would be thanking is Regina-sama.”
“I-Is that so…? Don’t push yourself. There’s not a single human who doesn’t have faith in something. It doesn’t have to be towards a god, even if such notions were directed to a devil or a Dark Goddess, it’d still be effective. What did you worship before you started worshipping Regina-sama?”
“No, I didn’t worship anything.”
“Haha, I see. Well, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to. Let’s get along, partner.”
Serena-sama called me her partner.
I’ll have to really put in some work for her sake.
We’ve arrived at the doorstep of a high class seeming inn.
“Right, we’ll stay here for today. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it’s fine every once in a while. Kazuma, go pay for it.”
I immediately rejected Serena’s request.
“… What did you just say?”
“I said I refuse. If I pay for your stay here, my feelings of owing something to you will be resolved. The puppetry on me will be dispelled.”
“Aah… right… But, still…. O-Oh, well…”
Serena-sama seemed to be thinking about something as she took out her wallet.
And inside her wallet is…
“Ah! Dammit, I forgot that Vanir took all my money again! Hey, Kazuma, I don’t care if it voids the puppetry or whatever, just lend me some money! I’ll release a few puppets to strengthen my control over you. Just lending me a bit of money won’t…”
“You can’t do that, Serena-sama! Getting complacent like that is especially dangerous! All the villains I know of in manga and games always end up losing because they get complacent at the very end. Don’t worry, I’ll just go borrow some money from those people over there.”
“M-Manga? Game? … O-Oh, very well, thank you… Ah, but, wouldn’t that just end up with you clearing your feelings of indebtness too…?”
Leaving Serena-sama who was mumbling something behind, I approached a couple of the adventurers who just happened to be milling around the entrance.
“Sorry, can I have a moment? You see, Serena-sama here has a bit of money trouble and can’t afford to pay for the inn right now. She’s poor and has few survival skills, so won’t you take some pity on her and gift a bit of offering to her?”
Serena let out a surprised voice from behind me.
The adventurer in front of me took out his wallet without a word of complaint.
“Serena-sama is in trouble? Leave it to me, I’ll give poor Serena-sama… Serena-sama? Why did I start attaching -sama to her name? … Ah, nevermind. Here. Seriously, what’s a priest doing asking for money? Please work harder, Serena-san.”
“Ah… U-Um… Thank you very much.”
Serena-sama said with a blush.
The adventurer handed over a small sum of money before disappearing off somewhere.
It seems like that adventurer was one of Serena-sama’s followers.
His puppetry was broken just now, but that won’t be a problem.
Serena-sama has me, after all.
“Aah… That man was a pretty skilled adventurer… Oh well. Come on, Kazuma, hurry up and pay for the room with that money.”
“Roger that. But, before that…”
Before leaving for the counter, I approached the tired seeming Serena.
And grabbed her bountiful chest with both hands.
Then, I wordlessly started groping them.
… … …
I silently stared into Serena-sama’s eyes as I enjoyed the soft sensation in my palms.
Suddenly, my hands were knocked away by Serena-sama.
“Y-Y-You little!? W-What are you doing!? Just what are you doing!?”
Stepping back in a panic, Serena screamed without a care for the people who are around us.
“Calm down, Serena-sama. You’re attracting attention.”
“That’s my line! Yeah, people are watching! What are you doing!? Why did you suddenly start fondling my boobs!”
What a strange question.
“What are you saying? I just borrowed money for your sake, you know? In other words, the feeling of obligation I hold towards you just weakened. Thus, if I don’t get some repayment from you, my puppetry will be dissolved. But, right now, Serena-sama doesn’t have any money, so I have to get my repayment through your body.”
“!?!?!? I-Is that so? No, wait, isn’t it odd? I mean, that adventurer earlier said he’d give the money to me… I attracted such gazes and even lost a puppet… It’s like I just set myself up… ?”
Leaving Serena-sama who was saying some incomprehensible things behind, I headed over to the counter to rent a room for the night.
“—Sigh… Did I get myself a trump card, or did I not… I don’t even know for sure right now…”
Letting out a sigh, Serena-sama closed her eyes and collapsed onto the bed.
Is she worried about something, I wonder?
She does look tired. Perhaps I should give her a massage.
“You seem exhausted, Serena-sama. Would you like me to give you a shoulder massage?”
“Hmm? Ah, sure, go ahead…”
Serena opened one of her eyes and lazily gazed up at me…
“… Wait, why are you in this room?”
And suddenly asked something weird.
“Well, the money we got is only enough to pay for one room… Ah, I won’t complain even if the bed is narrow, so don’t mind me.”
“I will mind! I will mind it very much! What’s with you!? Why are you climbing into my bed like it’s only natural? Weren’t you more of a coward when it came to women!?”
“Serena-sama, you were the one who ordered me, didn’t you? … Throw away your restraints, your common sense, your morality, your conscience. Throw them all away… I’m simply following your orders. It feels like I’ve been reborn.”
“So that’s it!!!!”
Serena-sama jumped from her bed and cradled her head between her hands.
Then, in a tired voice, she said.
“… Say, if I rescind that order, will you still feel like you owe me a huge debt?”
“Thanks to you removing the limiters on my heart, I’m actually enjoying life quite a bit right now. If you ask me to regain my senses again, that blow probably couldn’t be smoothed over by just letting me fondle your breasts for a bit.”
Serena-sama groaned and curled up into a ball while still clutching her head.
“You know… Why do I have to prepare a place to sleep for you? Just go find a place to sleep on your own… The other puppets all see to their own accommodations.”
“My circumstances are a little special. Unlike the other adventurers, thanks to Serena-sama, I can’t go back home right now. You need to properly support me there.”
“Gurk… B-But, well, now that I have brought you over to my side, my victory is more or less assured. I’m going to work you to the bone! Be prepared for some hard work tomorrow!”
After hearing my reply, Serena-sama clenched her fist and raised her voice as though she was trying to convince herself.