Spring Comes for That Blockhead Too
I sighted Keith lewdly eyeing the passing women at the adventurer’s guild, along with Lynn who was nibbling on a vegetable stick like she always does, and hurried over to them.
My wallet was extremely light today, so I was thinking of getting them to treat me to a meal.
“’Sup. You’re looking really cool today, Keith. As expected of a popular man, they really give off a different aura. Can you lend me some money?”
“…If you’re trying to flatter me, you could at least say something more believable.”
Keith rested his chin in his hands and he gave me an exasperated look.
Well, that didn’t work. The words I used must have been too far out of sync with reality for him to see through it this easily.
Oh well. There was still someone else I could turn to.
This time I’d go with some more grounded flattery.
“Oh, Lynn, you seem to be in good spirits today. Your skin looks to be quite shiny too. Ah, I see, you must have let out a big one, haven’t you? I feel like you’ve been complaining about being constipated–”
That was close… I only managed to dodge that bolt of lightning by the skin of my teeth.
That flash flew out through an open window behind me and sailed off into the sky.
“You little… Don’t start shooting magic at me out of the blue!”
“Blame yourself for saying such disgusting things to a girl currently having a meal!”
“Umm… Could you please refrain from casting magic within the guild?”
The person who uneasily interjected as we were glaring at each other was the most popular receptionist in the guild, Luna. Her huge breasts were wobbling in the most appealing way today as well.
“Yes, say it! She might actually listen if someone with breasts as huge as yours reprimands her! Let her and her flat chest know their place!”
“You son of a… I definitely won’t miss this time. Sorry, I made sure to target my spells so they wouldn’t cause damage to the guild, but…”
So it wasn’t a coincidence that the bolt of lightning flew out through the window?
“Well, in that case, I guess it’s fine.”
“Don’t be convinced so easily! How could that be fine!? If it had hit me, one of the reliable adventurers of the guild might have been taken out of commission! That would’ve been a great loss for the guild!”
“Eh? Well, I suppose you’re pretty strong as far as your skill at arms are concerned, but if that means that you won’t cause any problems for a while… I think it would’ve ended up a net benefit.”
How could she say such a terrible thing with a smile on her face?
“Leaving that aside for a moment, if that had hit me, the surrounding chairs and tables would’ve been burnt to a crisp too. You would’ve been stuck with the bill, Lynn.”
“I had faith that you would’ve dodged it.”
Don’t stare at me while clasping your hands in prayer.
“You had faith in nothing of that sort.”
“Anyway, if you are going to fight, please do it outside.”
With those words, Luna went back to her work.
…Isn’t it your job as a guild staff member to stop fights like this?
“Right, anyway, would you rather prefer to lend me money or treat me to a meal?”
“…You still think you’ll get a treat in this situation? You really are…”
“What’s with that prideful attitude?”
“If you treat me, the leader of the party, to a meal, your standing within the party will go up, won’t it? Depending on how you act, I wouldn’t mind elevating one of you to the position of second in command.”
In response to my confident declaration, the two of them sighed at the same time.
What’s with this reaction?
“Did you figure out a way to get drunk without drinking alcohol? Our leader is Taylor, remember? We all decided on that. Did you forget already?”
“If Dust was our leader, we would’ve been disbanded a long time ago.”
“…Eh? Are you serious? Isn’t the true, reliable leader of this party me?”
I was completely taken aback by those statements.
I know Taylor was in charge of taking on quests and accepting the rewards, but those were boring chores that nobody wanted to burden themselves with… right?
I thought they just let him act as the leader because it was more convenient that way.
“How could that possibly be the case? Putting you in the position of the leader would be the same thing as committing suicide.”
“The only place where you could be any sort of leader is the prison.”
“You guys sure don’t hold back, do you!? So, where’s that reliable leader of ours!? He’s not off slacking somewhere during this important meeting, is he!?”
I shouted while repeatedly smashing my fist against the table.
“Just what part of this meaningless conversation can be considered an important meeting?”
Normally, Taylor would be in the guild bright and early in the morning to check up on the quests available, but today, of all days, he was nowhere to be found. I swept my gaze across every nook and cranny of the guild, but I couldn’t even catch a glimpse of him.
“Say, Taylor seems to be quite busy as of late, doesn’t he? I hardly ever see him in the guild these days.”
“…Now that you mention it… I’ve seen the two of you around here often enough, but not Taylor…”
I didn’t notice it before Keith brought it up, but when was the last time I saw Taylor? It must have been at least a few days back…
Yeah, it was a few days ago. I think I saw him together with another person, but I was pretty deep in my cups back then, so I don’t quite remember much from that encounter.
“Unlike the two of you, Taylor is a busy person.”
Lynn said while shooting us a cheeky grin. Just what’s with that meaningful smirk of hers?
“What do you mean by that? Lynn, do you know what Taylor has been busying himself with?”
“The two of you really haven’t noticed, huh?”
“Hey, hey, just what are you saying? Don’t keep it to yourself, tell us too.”
“Yeah, yeah. There shouldn’t be any secrets amongst us companions.”
A shiver went down my spine upon hearing Keith’s words.
My body subconsciously reacted. There might come a day when I would need to reveal my secret to them.
…Well, this and that are different things! I’m going to drag what Taylor’s secret is out into the open!
“He’s been getting along fairly well with another adventurer lately. A girl, at that.”
The moment I heard that, I silently met gazes with Keith.
His brows were furrowed and he had a very unpleasant-seeming frown on his face. My expression was probably pretty similar.
“Hmm, I should go clean my ears. I could’ve sworn I heard something out of this world.”
“Dust too, huh? My ears must have been really clogged by earwax.”
After a brief intermission, we once again turned back to Lynn.
“Please say that again.”
“It seems like he’s getting along well with a cute kouhai adventurer.”
We couldn’t help but raise our voices upon hearing something so unbelievable.
That stiff and inflexible Taylor has a girl!?
“Stop joking! We’re talking about that blockhead Taylor, you know!? He who probably doesn’t even know what hitting on girls entails! If you’re telling me that Keith has a girlfriend, it might actually be believable!”
“You know, I don’t think Taylor is quite that stiff.”
“No, no, no, wait, wait, wait. This is totally strange! If spring has come for Taylor too, then where does that leave me? Even Dust here has some women hanging around him, so why the hell am I the only one left out!?”
Keith and I were wailing while clutching our heads, but Lynn was simply coldly staring at us.
Aren’t you a little too calm? One of our companions might be betraying us, you know?
“Why are you so calm, Lynn? You’re part of our singles alliance too, you know?”
“I don’t recall ever joining such an alliance. In the first place, there’s nothing odd about this. It’d be something else if one of you two is going out with a girl, but not if it’s Taylor we’re talking about.”
“How could that be the case? If you put me next to that stern and unfriendly Taylor, most women would naturally gravitate towards me!”
I guess I could give Keith, who’s worked himself into a little bit of a frenzy over this matter, some support.
“Yeah, yeah! No matter how you think about it, the two of us should be more popular than Taylor! Right, you guys?!”
Of course, I’ve noticed the gazes that the adventurers around me have been shooting my way, so I turned around and addressed them.
“Heck no. No matter how you look at it, Taylor is obviously the better man.”
“No, no, there’s no way. I’d rather join the Axis Cult than consider dating either of you.”
“Yeah, yeah, a goblin would be a better choice.”
These guys are just shooting their mouths off…
The others bystanders who were silent before were egged on by those words and started adding their own complaints to the mix.
And behind us, the guild staff solemnly nodded in response.
“I’ll definitely tell that Party Priest that you want to join the Axis Cult, so you better remember that! Hey, Keith, don’t just fall silent, you say something too!”
“Is our reputation really that bad…?”
Ah, Keith has curled up on the floor and seemed seriously depressed.
I’m not exactly unaffected by this, but it seems like Keith has taken far more damage.
I suppose I’ve built up some resistance to such comments after all the time I’ve spent trading barbs with Yunyun and Loli-Succubus…
That doesn’t make me happy at all.
Still, these guys really are going overboard. Right, I’ll use covering for Keith as an opportunity to wring some money out of them.
“Look, you’ve made Keith-kun cry! Do you guys not have a shred of compassion in your hearts? You fiends! If you feel bad about this, lend me some money or treat me to a meal!”
I tried to appeal to their conscience, but all of them simply let out a snort in response.
“Fiend is more fitting for someone who not only borrows money without paying it back, but attempts to borrow even more money on top of that.”
“And on top of that, when anyone pesters you to return the money, you snap. Hurry up and return me my money!”
“You even gave my name to the police to throw me off at one point, didn’t you!?”
Dammit, if anything, things have gotten worse.
This isn’t a good spot for me. If I don’t change the subject, all of my evil deeds are going to get dragged out one after another.
“A-Anyway, does anyone know that girl who’s been spending time with Taylor!?”
I loudly shouted over the voices of the other adventurers, and they slowly fell silent.
Eventually, murmurings to the tune of “Ah, wasn’t that the girl we saw?” and “Oh yeah, I think I saw her.” started spreading around the crowd.
“I don’t know the details, but it’s true that Taylor has been spending quite a bit of time with a newbie adventurer recently. Apparently, he’s showing her the ropes of being an adventurer. He is that sort of person, after all.”
One of the veteran adventurers said as he stroked his beard.
Perhaps encouraged by it, the other adventurers started sharing their stories about having seen Taylor together with a female adventurer too.
“So it was true after all… Dammit, how cold could he be!? He should’ve told us, his friends, right away! Right, Keith?”
I turned my attention to Keith, just in time to see him collapse on his side, hugging his knees to his chest.
“Who cares about that anymore…”
Oh, boy, seems like he’s taken far more damage than I thought. It doesn’t seem like he’d be useful for a while.
“Well, that’s the story, so just leave it be.”
“You idiot! Our precious leader might have gotten a woman, you know? As his friends… we need to give him our blessings. Mwahaha.”
“What’s with that wicked expression of yours? You’re not thinking of doing anything strange, are you?”
Taylor isn’t used to interacting with women, so it falls to me to make sure that he’s made the right choice. I’d have to gather information about her to determine if she is indeed a worthy fit for our leader.
She’s a newbie adventurer, so asking the guild staff about her would probably be the fastest way to go about this, but it’s unlikely that they will reveal any personal information to me. That means I’ll have to ask someone else who’s familiar with the rumours and stories that circulate around in the guild.
And I already have someone in mind. There isn’t a single person who spends more time hanging around the guild than that person.
“Yo, Yunyun. Since you’re someone who’s perfected the art of being a loner, there’s something I’d like to ask you.”
I noticed Yunyun, who wasn’t already in the guild for once, slide in through the doors, and wasted no time in calling out to her.
“That nickname is kinda cool and Crimson Demon-like, but I won’t be fooled that easily. Even if you prostrate yourself again, I’m not lending you any more–”
“I’m not here for money today, though if you are willing to give me some, I’d gratefully accept it. But nevermind that. More importantly, have you heard anything interesting about Taylor recently?”
“Ah, are you referring to that adventurer that seems to be getting along well with Taylor-san!?”
Yunyun’s eyes practically lit up the moment the topic of romance was brought up. Despite her having no luck in such matters, she is still extremely interested in the romantic relationships of others.
“Yes, that’s right. He doesn’t really interact with women very often, so I’m a little worried that he’s being led on. If you know anything about that, please share it with me… or so Lynn said.”
“Lynn-san said that?”
Such concern would be fairly suspicious coming from me, but it’s a different story if it was Lynn.
The two of them have interacted with each other more often recently, and have gotten closer as a result. If I were to frame it as a request from Lynn, Yunyun, with her loner syndrome, should be much more willing to spill the beans.
“Yeah, Lynn is a companion of Taylor and thinks of him as a friend. She’s a little bit worried if Taylor is being deceived, so if you tell her anything you know, she’ll probably be grateful to you.”
“Just ask me anything! I’ll do my best!”
Yunyun confidently stated while puffing out her chest. It’s really great for me that her buttons are so easily pushed.
“Well, according to the rumours, the girl is a newbie adventurer, but is that actually true?”
“Err, I first saw her in the guild starting about two weeks ago. After that, she’d frequently show up and observe the guild while occasionally taking glances at the quest board.”
“Yes. I kept my eye on her because I thought I might be able to become friends with a newbie, so there’s no mistaking it. She seemed quite nervous and seems to always be staring at some adventurer or the other.”
It’s a pretty common story to have a newbie adventurer cheerfully head to the guild, only to get cold feet and become unable to make any further moves.
To think that such a newbie had to suffer under Yunyun’s piercing gaze… It gives me the chills, but I think I’ll pass on commenting.
“And then, about a week ago, she came back to the guild together with Taylor. I was sitting nearby, so I overheard what they said… Ah, I’m not eavesdropping on purpose! I wouldn’t do something that rude!”
“Nevermind that, the important bit is what they were talking about. They weren’t fooling around with each other or talking about indecent stuff, were they?”
“They aren’t you, Dust-san. Err, apparently, Taylor-san came to the newbie adventurer’s rescue when she was fighting a monster on her own, and after that, he offered to help show her the ropes of being an adventurer. He really is a kind person, isn’t he?”
I see. Well, he is a bit of a busybody, after all. He probably couldn’t help himself.
In other words, their relationship was one of a teacher and a student. It seems I was too hasty in jumping to conclusions.
“So a teacher-student relationship, huh. Well, as long as he introduces her to me later, I can let that slide.”
“Why do you sound so high and mighty? And, from the look in the newbie adventurer’s eyes, she has completely fallen for Taylor-san. Those were the eyes of a maiden in love.”
“…Are you sure it’s not just her idolizing a veteran adventurer?”
“Hmm… I don’t think it’s just admiration, but…”
A girl who’s in love with Taylor.
She probably doesn’t know that an amazing adventurer like me is present in this guild, and happen to think of Taylor as a good man after he just so happened to help her out. That has to be it!
“What’s wrong? Why are you biting your lip like that?”
“By the way, what does that newbie look like?”
“She’s a beautiful girl with long black hair. And she’s slender, but her bodyline is really amazing.”
“I’ll kill him!”
“W-Where did that come from?”
I couldn’t help but put voice to my thoughts.
That bastard, how dare he enjoy such a situation all by himself!? A beauty with an amazing bodyline? All the women around me have nothing to speak of between their waists and their necks, and the only one that has any potential is this loner brat.
“Where are you staring!?”
The brat in question hastily covered her chest in a huff.
In this case, I’ll have to make contact with the girl directly and spread a few rumours here and there to drag him down.
“Right, I’m going to look into this. Yunyun, you come with me too. You’re probably just planning to sit all day in the guild by yourself anyways, so you should have plenty of free time.”
“I-I’m not free, but I’ll follow you because I’m interested in this too.”
I briefly considered inviting Lynn with us too, but she’d probably just get in the way if she was there, so nevermind that.
As for Keith… He’s still frozen at a corner of the guild, so let’s just leave him be for now.
It didn’t take long to find out where Taylor and that newbie adventurer were headed to today. Luna told Yunyun where they were the moment she asked. Even though she wouldn’t breathe a word of it to me…
It seems like they accepted a monster subjugation quest a short distance away from town and happily headed out together.
“Love blooming during an adventure… Isn’t it beautiful?”
“What are you saying? There’s no way that can happen. Fighting monsters means putting your life at risk. It’s not a task you can take on with such a casual attitude! Lowering your guard for a single moment could be all it takes to lose your life!”
“…And what do you really think?”
“I want to show a beautiful girl the ropes of being an adventurer too! In such a situation, she wouldn’t get angry even if my hands happened to make contact with her hands or her chests, right?”
I answered without thinking, and Yunyun shot a cold gaze back at me.
Dammit, I stepped right into that.
“…You really are completely hopeless… Ah, there they are.”
“Dammit, she really is a beauty after all.”
I dragged Yunyun behind the shadow of a large tree, where we observed the two of them.
Taylor stood in front of the newbie, placing himself between a monster and her, and seemed to be shouting something towards her.
Just as the rumours suggested, the newbie was a woman with long, flowing black hair and was bountiful in both the chest and ass department.
She was a newbie adventurer, so I thought that she’d be on the younger side, but she seems to be close to Taylor in age.
They are only facing off against a single goblin, so there’s no need for us to intervene. We’ll just continue observing them.
Moving from tree to tree, we slowly crept closer.
“Looks like we can hear them from here.”
“What if it’s a confession of love!? What should we do?”
Don’t get lost in your delusions and slap me on the back! What are you going to do if they hear us?
Plus, from where I’m standing, he can’t be doing anything apart from giving her advice on how to take down monsters.
“If you have high defenses like a Crusader, you’ll be able to stand on the front lines and absorb attacks, but you’re a warrior type like Dust, so you’ll need to use your speed to dodge your enemy’s attacks. Do keep that in mind.”
“Yes, Master Taylor!”
Come on, is that really worth calling him master over?
Taylor nodded in a dignified manner, but it doesn’t seem like he’s reveling in it.
“Huh? It seems like they are just focusing on the fight.”
“A hardhead like Taylor would never have a tryst out in the woods like this. I’m glad to see my trust in him isn’t misplaced.”
“…Didn’t you say something about killing him earlier?”
“Did you just imagine what you wanted to hear because your time as a loner has gotten to you?”
I ignored Yunyun and focused my attentions on those two, but he merely taught her about how to defeat the monster and the kind of mindset an adventurer should have.
Nothing interesting, in short.
It seems like Yunyun agrees with me, for her intense gaze soon faded into one of boredom when it became clear that it wasn’t what she expected.
“Good work. Shall we take a break?”
Taylor took out a sheet from the bag that the newbie was carrying and spread underneath a tree, and the both of them sat side by side on it.
They seem to be sharing a cup of tea together, and from where I’m standing, they seem to only be good friends and nothing else.
“I think you’ll be able to get along fine without my guidance now. It’s best that you find a party around your level soon.”
“Eh… Yeah… I’ll just be a bother if I keep sticking with you.”
“T-That’s not what I mean.”
Taylor seemed flustered when faced with the lonely look that the newbie had in her eyes.
There is a bittersweet atmosphere that could be felt even all the way over here…. It kinda pisses me off.
“I knew it, there is something there! Just look at the sad look in her eyes…. W-Why are you taking your shirt off!?”
“I thought I’d rush out there naked and break this stupid bittersweet mood in an instant!”
“Please don’t do that! Just support your friend’s budding love from the side!”
“I refuse! Nothing pisses me off more than the happiness of others! Especially when it comes to romantic relationships!”
“Y-You are the worst! I won’t let you get between those two! If you want to, you’ll have to go through me!”
Yunyun brought herself up in front of me and entered into a stance where she could cast magic at any time.
She has always been easily swayed by the plight of others. I’ve made good use of that personality of hers in the past, but it’s certainly problematic in such a situation.
“Hah, too bad, you’ve already walked right into my trap.”
“I won’t fall for such a transparent trick! I’ll be serious today!”
“How naive. Do you seriously think they won’t hear you if you shout loudly like this?”
It’s too late to cover your mouth.
If you rave and shout like this, people will notice even if they don’t want to.
Yunyun was blocking my view, so I adjusted my footing slightly to peer past her and check up on what Taylor and the newbie were doing.
Only, there wasn’t a single person there.
“They left while I was dealing with you! Dammit, where did they go!?”
“Ah, wait! I won’t let you get in their way!”
I thoroughly looked around the place while trying to dodge Yunyun who was desperately chasing after me, but I couldn’t catch even a glimpse of them.
This means that they must have returned to Axel.
“Dammit, in this case, I’ll just have to go with my original plan and directly fill her ears with bad rumours of Taylor!”
I could see Yunyun chasing after me from a distance, but I pretended not to see her and headed back to town.
I went straight to the adventurer’s guild the moment I made it back to town, but neither Taylor nor that newbie was there.
Keith was still curled up into a ball at the corner of the guild, and Lynn was sitting at a table next to him. From the looks of things, it doesn’t seem like Taylor had made his way back to the guild yet.
Right, now what do I do? If the two of them were headed out for a meal, they should’ve passed by the main street. Perhaps I should ask the old man if he has seen them.
“P-Please don’t leave me behind like that~!”
Yunyun said amidst ragged breaths as she grabbed me by the shoulder.
So she followed me after all.
“Right, we’re heading over to the general store. Follow me.”
Trying to shake her off would be a pain, so I guess she can tag along for now.
“–So that’s the story. Have you seen Taylor around?”
“I haven’t seen him pass by today. Ojou-chan, you’re still hanging around this guy? This man is a thoroughbred scum, so it’d really be best for you to cut your ties with him as soon as possible.”
“I can’t refute that…”
Don’t seriously think on it.
Still, it seems like this was a dead end. Unless…
“Hey, you weren’t slacking off in the back instead of actually working, were you?”
“Even if that was the case, this is my shop. There’s no place for you to be lecturing me about it. Though… You said the girl was a beauty with long, black hair, right?”
“Yeah. Her chest and ass were both amazing. Did you recall something?”
The old man gazed off into the distance.
“A girl I’ve never seen before dropped by a few days ago to sell off some jewellery and equipment the other day. It’s probably just a coincidence, but she does resemble your description of her.”
“Please tell me more details.”
“I think it was about four days ago. She came in bearing a huge load of rings in all kinds of different sizes as well as armour made for a man and a bunch of weapons. It’s fairly common for people to sell me such things, but it’s the first time I saw someone come in with such a mismatched set of items. Plus, she was a beautiful girl who I’ve never seen before, so it left quite an impression on me.”
…She came here to sell stuff?
It’s not unusual for adventurers to pick up second-hand weapons and gear at this shop. It’s particularly attractive for newbies to purchase a set of gear here when they lack the funds for anything better.
However, she came here to sell. This is starting to smell fishy.
“Did anything stick out as suspicious to you?”
“Well, I didn’t want to get caught selling stolen goods, so I asked for some identification, and she produced her adventurer’s card. There wasn’t anything suspicious about it, so I took them.”
“What’s up with that…? Did she become an adventurer just so she could get something that could assure her identity…?”
“E-Err, don’t you think this is a little odd?”
So even Yunyun picked up on it, huh?
“Hey, why are you furrowing your brows like that? Did you think of some new scam or something?”
“Why would you think that!? Bah, I don’t have the free time to spend hanging around such a stifling old man. Seeya.”
“H-Hey… Sigh, what a carefree fellow…”
“Sorry. Thank you for having us! Hey, I said not to leave me behind~”
Yunyun was shouting something at be from behind, but I ignored her as I proceeded down the main road.
This is definitely worth looking a little deeper into.
I’m not really worried over Taylor’s safety, but if that woman turned out to be some kind of criminal, I would probably be able to get some kind of reward if I turned her over to the police.
I don’t know where she got the jewellery and gear from, but there’s only a few things one can spend a windfall like that on.
Gambling, wine, or women… No, she’s a girl, so she probably wouldn’t be spending it on women. In this case, perhaps I should look into the shopping district.
Well, I’ll hit up the local gambling parlour first.
When I tried to enter the gambling parlour that I hadn’t visited for quite some time, the bouncer standing at the front doors stopped me.
“Hey, didn’t you notice this sign?”
He jabbed his overly large thumb towards a sign pasted above the door, which read: We refuse to service broke, troublemaking customers. That means you, Dust.
“What did you do this time?”
“I didn’t do anything! What is the meaning of this!? Just how much money do you think I dumped in here!? I should be a VIP!”
“True, you’re really bad at gambling, so you’re very profitable for the establishment. However, you constantly harass the other customers the moment you go broke! And stop hitting on the dealers!”
“If the ones who won were to share their winnings with me, the money will flow fairly throughout the entire establishment! That’s what economy is! And it’s only polite to hit on beautiful women!”
“Yeah, and that one time you actually won, you quickly left with all your winnings. And the dealer has been asking us to do something about that creepy delinquent for quite some time now.”
How could you operate a business like this! I’m never coming back again!
And that dealer is the same one who once whispered “If it’s someone like you, you’ll definitely hit the jackpot” sweetly in my ear and caused me to lose a large sum..
“Anyway, we are busy preparing to deal with the card shark right now, so I really don’t have time to entertain you.”
“There’s a woman who appeared in town recently who’s been making a killing at the gambling dens throughout the town. There are quite a few people who’ve lost large sums of money and even valuable items going up against her.”
“…Tell me more about this woman.”
“Why are you so… Oh, fine. I’ll tell you, so give me a shout if you learn anything. She’s woman who’s blessed in both high luck and skill in cards. She’s never lost a match, so we think she’s cheating somehow, but we just can’t grasp her methods. However, her movements definitely aren’t those of an amateur. And she doesn’t seem like she’s in the same business as us either.”
After that short exchange, I left to gather information from the other gambling parlours in the town, where similar scenes played out, and where I was told similar tales. I also asked any fellow adventurers I saw on the way.
“Ah, I heard a friend of a friend lost everything on him going up against her. She is not only skilled with her hands, but she doesn’t hesitate to make use of her feminine charms either. Just thinking about it makes my blood boil.”
“That friend of a friend is just referring to you, isn’t it?”
“W-What are you saying!? There’s no way that can be! Ahahaha!”
“That woman, huh… She approached me out of the blue, but in the middle of our conversation, she went off after some other guy. When I went after her, she said that ‘I’ll go out with anyone who wins against me. If you win, you may do whatever you want with me as your prize.’ There’s no man who wouldn’t challenge her after hearing something like this! You understand, right!? Any man would definitely take her on after hearing that!”
“Well, when she starts crying and saying that her sister is suffering due to her illness, anyone would be moved to give her a bit of money, right? I mean, sure, I had some hopes that this would allow us to grow closer, but…”
After gathering information from the various idiots who got tricked by her, I’ve managed to piece together a pretty good picture of who the rumoured card shark is. It’s definitely that newbie adventurer who was calling Taylor ‘Master’ not too long ago.
It seems like she’s gotten close to many other adventurers other than Taylor and fleeced them off their gold and valuables. Not only that, but she uses a different method for each person.
Some people were completely taken in by her seductions, and others were taken in by some sob story that she spun.
True, they are idiots for getting tricked in the first place, but she’s certainly a deft hand at it.
And that’s how she’s getting all those equipment and valuables to sell.
“It seems like that newbie is quite the villainess indeed.”
“It’s not true, right? I mean, she seems so honest…”
“You can’t judge a person by how she looks. Take the girls at the bar, for instance. They’ll keep you company as long as you pay up, but they’ll instantly vanish the moment you run out of money. Still, I didn’t see this coming. Now, what should I do?”
I did want to get in their way before, but I didn’t expect the woman to be the problem.
I could just expose the plot to Taylor. That’d wrap things up quickly, but…
“What should we do? Wouldn’t it be best to tell Taylor-san about this? He might end up losing all of his money like everyone else at this rate.”
“Why would we tell him? It’s his own fault for falling for such a scheme. If he does end up handing over his money, that’d be his problem.”
“What? But he’s your friend…”
“But, well, it’d be pretty fun to knock someone riding high to the ground, don’t you think?”
This is definitely not for Taylor’s sake, but the idea of turning the tables on that woman who’s riding high after fooling so many people out of their gold does seem like it’d be pretty fun.
There’s nothing wrong with tricking a villain, after all.
“Hey, beautiful lady over there! Yes, you with the long black hair and the truly bodacious body!”
“What, are you referring to me?”
The woman who replied so languidly was, of course, that newbie adventurer.
She gave off a completely different feeling from when she was hanging around Taylor.
“Yes, yes, you! You seem to be extremely blessed by good fortune as of late. That really piqued my interest, so I called out to you.”
There’s a reason why I’m speaking like an old man.
Right now, I’m wearing a fake white beard along with a pair of thick, round glasses.
With that, I’ve set up a fortune-telling store along the road that woman takes to the clothing store that she frequently visits.
“Fortune, huh? Well, I suppose you aren’t exactly wrong. You’ve got a pretty good eye, don’t you? Eh, I’ve got some money, so give me a reading.”
“Thank you very much. Now, come, come, take a seat.”
I directed her to the cloth-covered table in front of me, and she took a seat.
Even though she had an aura of a sunny and honest newbie when she was hanging around with Taylor, right now, she had an extremely seductive aura that attracted the gaze of half a dozen men from the street.
Women really are scary beings indeed.
“Now then, please look into this crystal ball. I’ll be able to see your past and future. Hmmm, oh, I see it now! You’re an adventurer, I see.”
“Anyone would say that when I’m dressed like this.”
True, the only people who’d walk around town wearing leather armour and a sword would be adventurers.
Thus far, her reaction is fairly tepid, but the true abilities of fortune-telling is yet to come.
“This morning, you remembered that you forgot to remove your makeup before sleeping last night, so you got into the bath in a hurry. You start washing from your feet up, and you pay special attention to you chest… Wait, seriously, Sir? Tell me more about that.”
“Eh? How do you know that?”
“Heh heh heh. I’m a pretty skilled fortune-teller, after all. I can see everything, even the colour of the panties you’re wearing right now… Oh come on, don’t be that petty, Sir. You can see it just fine, can’t you?”
“Hey, why are you whispering like that? Is there someone else there?”
The woman cast a suspicious gaze down at me.
I’ll get busted if I don’t play this off more naturally. I should keep that in mind going forward.
“What are you talking about? There’s no one hiding under the table. Anyway, let’s continue. At this rate, a huge misfortune shall befall you.”
“Misfortune? You’re joking, right? I’ve been having the time of my life with all the suckers in this town. I’ve been making a killing every day.”
The twisted smile playing on her face really puts her beauty to waste.
As I suspected, the face she puts on in front of Taylor was an act after all.
“Fortune flows around like a wheel. If you receive the blessings of great fortune, it’ll definitely come back around. Particularly so if that fortune came as a result of fooling other and taking their possessions for yourself…”
“You speak like you saw it in person…”
Her smile vanished instantly, to be replaced by a cold expression.
“Sigh. I get it now. You’re a friend of one of the guys that lost everything to me in a gamble, right? Too bad, I’m not the kind of person to fall for that kind of tricks. You’re a hundred years too early to be fooling me. Try again in your next life.”
Saying that, she turned to leave, and I called out to her.
“When the earth starts rumbling, a large disaster shall befall you. That’s a portent that only you shall be able to feel. Do try to keep that in mind.”
“Yeah, yeah, come up with a more believable lie next time.”
The woman casually said that as she vanished into a side alley.
Yeah, most people wouldn’t believe something like this right off the bat. Still, it should weigh on the back of her mind a little.
I took off my fortune teller’s disguise and straightened up.
It seems like she’s still trying to forge a relationship with Taylor right now, so he shouldn’t come to any harm for the moment, but at this rate, it’s only a matter of time before he joins the ranks of the people who have been taken advantage of by her.
“Thanks for the help, Sir.”
I lifted the white cloth and conveyed my thanks to Sir Vanir who was sitting cross-legged underneath it.
The fortune-telling earlier was all thanks to Sir’s power to see the past and the future. He merely conveyed what he saw to me.
Sir emerged from underneath the table, straightened up, and let out a laugh.
“Fuhahaha! There’s no need for thanks, Delinquent who’s only good at getting up to no good. Such pranks are perfectly suited for my tastes, not to mention that it’s a good chance to taste more dark emotions. You have not forgotten about that matter, Moi trusts?”
“Of course not. Right, now, here comes the main event.”
“Misfortune? How stupid. Still, perhaps I’ve been a little too flashy to attract the attentions of someone like that. Maybe it’s about time I bid farewell to this town.”
Judging from the way she’s speaking, it doesn’t seem like she has any intention of changing her ways.
Still, despite what she’s saying, when something sounded from behind her, she hurriedly turned around and scanned the walls and her surroundings.
“In the first place, what does ‘when the ground rumbles’ mean? It’s not like there are any volcanoes nearby… Eh?”
Almost as if in response to her words, a loud boom sounded in the distance, followed by a sudden tremor.
“W-What’s going on? An earthquake?”
The woman sat on the ground and covered her head, but the people around her went about their business like nothing’s happening.
“Eh? You’re kidding… Why is no one reacting? It’s like they don’t even hear that explosion or feel the tremor… Could it be… that I’m the only one who felt that?”
Her face started growing pale. Seems like she’s remembering the fortune I left with her.
I made a signal, and at that instant, a large amount of fluid splashed onto her head.
“It’s cold! …What is this? It’s slimy and feels disgusting! Ah, it’s soaking into my clothes…!”
Yunyun pushed these onto me, saying that she got a whole bunch of tokoroten slime from the Axis Cult and had nothing to use it on, but to think that it would come in handy like this…
The woman hastily looked up, but there were only clear skies above her.
Upon seeing not a single cloud in the sky, the woman hugged her body and trembled.
“What’s going on? Don’t tell me that fortune wasn’t a fake?”
With a blood-drained face, the woman picked up her pace and hurried down the street.
Everything is going just as planned.
“Did everything go well?”
Keith poked his head out from a nearby building, holding in his hands a bucket that was full of tokoroten slime until just a short while ago.
“Yeah, your timing was perfect.”
“Well, the signal was the explosion that has become this town’s attraction by now. It’s pretty hard to miss that.”
That boom and accompanying tremor is, of course, the daily routine of that crazy Explosion Girl.
The residents of this town have gotten used to it by now, so no one would have raised a fuss over it. Though, apparently, Kazuma and his party were out-of-town the past few days, so it’s been quite quiet recently.
In any case, that woman has only been in town for a short time, so she wouldn’t be familiar with Axel’s local attraction. It’d be best if everything else went just as smoothly… Well, I’ll just have to keep that in mind going forward.
I hurried off after the woman and spotted her a few meters around the corner. She appeared to be walking casually, but her neck was almost swiveling around as she kept careful watch over her surroundings.
Still, it doesn’t seem like she has taken notice of my presence.
“Right, then, the next point is…”
I’ve looked up the places that she is likely to visit.
Seems like she’s headed for a high-end restaurant. Great, this is within my calculations.
I entered through the back door and met the gaze of the chefs and waiters who were there, who returned with a grin.
The truth is, the people who are pretending to be chefs and waiters are the adventurers who were fleeced by her.
The manager of this shop was a former adventurer, and when we offered him a half year’s free pass to use the succubus shop, he happily let us use the store.
“Alright, you bastards, your chance for revenge has come. Everything is prepared, right!?”
“Leave it to me. Let her eat our handmade meal to her heart’s content!”
The chef enthusiastically declared, before passing the dish over to Keith who was dressed as a waiter.
Keith offered his full support to this prank we’re pulling. He said something about being willing to do anything to help Taylor, but most likely, he’s just bored.
I was a little curious as to how things would play out, so I peeked into the restaurant from the kitchen.
“Thank you for waiting. Here’s the chef’s whimsical choice for today.”
“Hehe, I wonder what’s I’ll eat today… What is this?”
The item that the woman was pointing to with a frown was a simple slab of meat covered in a translucent, brown substance.
“It’s covered in the chef’s whimsical sauce!”
“Eh? When you say whimsical, you mean like this? What is this sauce even made off?”
“Well… It was made on a whim, so I don’t know the ingredients that went into it. Well, it’ll probably be fine.”
“Probably? …Ah, fine. The chef’s skills are pretty good, so maybe it just looks bad today.”
In a tone that seemed like she was trying to convince herself, she sent the waiter away.
Keith bowed before bringing the same dish to a different customer.
After confirming that the other customer ate the dish without any issues, the woman let out a small sigh of relief before digging into her own dish.
“Gurk!? What’s with this sticky and droopy sauce? The meat is overcooked, tough and bitter, and the smell is even worse! Hey–!”
Just as she threw the fork against the table and stood up, a loud voice resonated throughout the store.
“Mmmm! This new dish is the best! The smell and aridity is perfectly blended together with this new sauce! It’s delicious!”
“If I wasn’t such a connoisseur, this blend of flavours would’ve slipped by me entirely! Anyone who would complain about this dish is showing just how plebeian their taste are!”
Hearing the words of the other customers, the woman fell silent and sat back down.
It’s a little overblown, the way they are shouting praises while stuffing their mouths, but as far as acts go, it wasn’t too bad.
Seeing the other customers happily dig into their meals like that, the woman also helped herself to the food, though it’s obvious that she isn’t enjoying it in the slightest. Her brow furrowed and her frown deepened with each and every bite.
“Say, what did you put in that?”
When I asked the chef that, he clapped his hands and proudly laughed.
“I just threw the meat on the pan without removing the blood first, and the sauce is made by adding a whole bunch of sugar to the tokoroten slime you brought.”
So it’s just hard and bitter meat covered in sweet and clumpy sauce, huh? Yeah, of course she would make that face.
Still, perhaps it’s because of her pride, the woman still forced herself to finish the dish before uttering a “T-Thanks for the meal” and leaving, her face painted with the green of nausea.
The moment she left, the adventurers who were posing as customers stood up as one and made a rush for the toilet.
“Bleegh! Seriously, are you trying to kill us? There’s a limit on how bad you can make a dish taste!”
“Why did you make us eat the same thing!? You could’ve just given us something that looked the same! Actually, you take a bite too!”
“As if I could eat something this disgusting!”
“What is wrong with you!?”
Ignoring the fight brewing between the “kitchen staff” and the “customers”, Keith and I exited the store and went after the woman.
Afterwards, we continued harassing her by changing the seasonings while she wasn’t looking, or jacking up the prices by several times its normal price when she tried to buy something, and other such antics.
At the end of the day, a tired-seeming woman retreated back to the high-class hotel she was staying at.
“This really is completely different from the inn that I usually stay at. She is really living a rich life with the money she took from the others.”
“Well, you occasionally pass out drunk and sleep by the roadside, after all.”
The person standing next to me isn’t Keith, but Loli-Succubus.
Her abilities will be more useful from this point out.
“This time is a special occasion. I’m only helping out because I heard that it’d be helpful to Vanir-sama. Don’t get the wrong idea.”
“Yeah, I get it. If you do well, sir Vanir might even get happy enough to give you a headpat or two.”
I think she’s starting to drool.
“Say, didn’t you tell me that ‘Thinking that girls enjoy getting patted on the head is the fantasy of a virgin.’ at some point?”
“There’s nothing strange about it. It’s only natural for be happy when someone you’ve adored is doing it, isn’t it? If you do it, it’d be sexual harassment, but Vanir-sama is different. If anything, I’d rather he pat all my important bits too!”
“Oh, I thought of something good!”
I don’t know what’s going through her head, but she crossed her arms and nodded repeatedly.
“There’s plenty I want to say right now, but I’ll bear with it on account of you helping me today. You’re prepared, right?”
“Leave it to me! I have the perfect idea of what dream to show her!”
The reason I called upon her is to give that woman a nightmare.
After going through such a horrible day, she’s sure to have turned in early. I’ll let her see the ultimate nightmare as a present tonight.
The next day.
I was dressed up as a fortune-teller and sitting back at that street I was at yesterday, when someone sat down opposite me.
I looked up, and sitting there was the very haggard looking newbie adventurer.
“Oh, you seem quite tired today. Did you have too much fun last night?”
“It was an absolutely horrible day. I got drenched in some mysterious sticky substance, none of my shopping turned out well, and I saw a nightmare where I got chased by a horde of blonde perverts… Just remembering it makes me shudder.”
Guess the nightmare worked out after all.
Though, the contents of that nightmare seem a little weak somehow. I’ll ask Loli-Succubus for more details later.
“By the way, do you have some business with me today, lady?”
“I don’t really want to, but I have no choice but to believe in your fortune after everything that’s happened.”
Yes, she fell for it. Here’s the critical part.
“Oh, is that so? Well, then, what would you like me to divine today? Perhaps the color of your panties? I’ve been practicing some breast fondling fortune-telling too, so perhaps you would like to give it a shot?”
“I’ll pass on that. Just give me a regular fortune. Something that would bring me good luck again.”
“Hmm, good luck, huh. Haaa…Heee…Hooo!”
I placed my hands on the crystal ball and made some strange movements, accompanied by various strange noises too.
The newbie adventurer jumped a little in surprise, but unlike yesterday, she’s watching me with interest today.
“Oh, there we go. The magic item shop at the end of this street is having a sale right now. Apparently, the item they are recommending is your lucky item.”
“Magic item shop?”
“Indeed. Manning that store is a pale beauty of a shopkeeper, and a masked store assistant. The item that the masked man recommends is the key to your good fortune.”
“M-Masked store assistant? That sounds suspicious, but I suppose it’s worth checking out. Thank you, here’s your payment.”
She gave me more money than I expected, but I simply accepted it without saying a word.
Could fortune-telling be more profitable than adventuring?
“You prodded her quite well.”
Just like yesterday, Sir Vanir emerged from underneath the table.
The condition for getting his help with the fortune-telling was to get that woman to buy an item from his store.
“With this, you’ll be able to get rid of some of your inventory. She looks to be pretty loaded, so you should be able to get some money out of her.”
“Indeed. At this rate, this month’s ledgers would be filled with red ink thanks to that incompetent shopkeeper. Very well, Moi shall rush back to the store. Thank you for your assistance.”
“We’re friends, aren’t we? I’ll help you out any time you need!”
Sir Vanir sped away from the table, and I saw him off with a huge wave.
Now, then, I’ve already directed her towards Sir Vanir, so my part of the deal is done. Now all that’s left to do is to see how things play out.
I packed up my fortune-telling store into a bag and headed towards the magic item shop.
There’s no way I could’ve kept up with Sir Vanir’s speed, and by the time I reached the shop, he was already dressed in an apron and welcoming her as a customer.
“Welcome, young lady who is apparently quite beautiful by human standards.”
“Ah, err, was that a compliment?”
Peeking in through the window, it doesn’t seem like Wiz is manning the store at the moment.
She isn’t crumpled on the floor like she usually is, so she’s probably outside somewhere.
Just as I thought that, I smelt a faint burnt scent along with something flowery.
“Is she in the yard?”
I followed that smell, and around the corner of the store, just out of sight of the street, was a charred Wiz laying in a crumpled heap.
Ah, she probably bought something useless again and got punished by Vanir. Or maybe he just pushed her here to keep her from interfering.
Well, in any case, she’ll heal in time, so I turned my attentions back to what’s happening inside the store.
“I-Is this really the item that you recommend?”
And just in time too. I barely got back to the window before I heard the newbie adventurer’s incredulous voice.
I peeked inside, and in Sir Vanir’s hands was a strangely realistic-looking doll. It was wearing a dress that made it seem like the young lady of some noble family.
“This doll is rumoured amongst the neighbours to raise your luck. Its hair will grow naturally on its own, so feel free to style its hair whichever way you like. It occasionally moves from where you’ve placed it, but that is a small matter. Pay it no heed.”
“Of course not! It sounds just like a cursed doll!”
“What are you saying. Let’s leave the jokes there. This doll has plenty of other useful functions too. One of those functions is that, if you tell the doll a specific time, it will wake you up at that time. Why don’t we give it a try?”
Sir whispered something into the doll’s ear and placed it on top of the counter.
As the newbie adventurer and I watched, the doll’s mouth dropped open and from it emitted a loud, creepy sounding laugh.
“Eeep! What’s up with this!?”
“Fuhahahaha! No matter how deep in sleep you are, this function will wake you straight up! Isn’t it amazing? Incidentally, if you leave it alone for too long, it might attack you with the short sword it keeps in its bust! Oh, and it also comes fully equipped to brew tea!”
“That makes it sound like I’ll take an eternal sleep if I’m not careful! Anyway, nevermind that, how do you stop this thing?”
She pointed at the doll, which was still laughing over the voices of both Sir Vanir and the newbie adventurer.
Just hearing it through the glass is giving me the migraines, so I’m sure it’d be quite painful for those within the store.
…Thought Sir seems unaffected.
“Hmm, a way to stop it, huh? You’ll have to force its mouth close with all of your strength.”
“Say that earlier… Hey, this doll is really struggling! Hey, doesn’t this look really strange?”
From a distance, watching her desperately try to close her hand over that dolls mouth makes her seem like a criminal trying to abduct a small child.
“You’ll be able to get some exercise the moment you awaken, so that’ll perk you up too.”
“Ah, err… forget it. Don’t you have any other items you recommend?”
“Was that not to your liking? Then, what about the popular Vanir doll that laughs at night? Apart from that, there’s this necklace that has a gem that repels monsters embedded in it. What do you think?”
Sir retrieved a necklace from the shelves behind him. It didn’t look half bad, to be honest.
“Just what’s with you and laughing dolls? Well, that necklace looks pretty nice, so I’m fine with that. How strong is the monster repellent effect?”
“It’d repel monsters around the level of a goblin and such.”
“That’s not too bad.”
True, that doesn’t sound too bad. It’d actually be pretty popular amongst merchants and carriage drivers if that was all it does. Of course, there’s no way any item sold by this store could be that straightforward.
“The drawback is that the jewel lets out a sweet scent, but all that does is attract monsters, so there’s no need to concern yourself with that.”
“Say, that scent… wouldn’t it cancel out the monster repellent effect!? That’s quite a major drawback…”
The adventurer doesn’t seem to be too into it, but at the end of the day, there wasn’t much else of worth in the store, so she left with the necklace along with a bunch of other miscellaneous knick knacks.
“Sigh, there goes all my money. Maybe it’s time I bid farewell to this town and go back to Elroad…”
The woman, clutching a bag full of useless goods, grumbled as she exited the store.
“Elroad is the city of gamblers, right? This girl just doesn’t learn.”
Well, she already decided to leave this town, so there’s really no need for this, but just for good measure, I’ll sneak by her room and leave that doll under her bed later tonight.
Three days have passed since then.
The money I’ve gotten while I was working as a fortune-teller was all gone by now, so I headed into the guild.
Sitting at our usual table was Lynn, Keith, and, this time, Taylor too.
Looks like they parted ways. I have no idea what their farewell was like, but a little teasing wouldn’t go amiss.
“Sup. Oh, Master Taylor, it’s been some time.”
“Don’t call me that. It makes my skin crawl.”
“You’ve been spending a lot of time with a girl recently, right? Introduce me to her some time.”
The moment I said that, Keith and Lynn raised their fingers to their mouths and made shushing motions at me.
What’s with them? This reaction… Oh, I see. He must have been dumped before they parted ways, huh?
“Oh, what, don’t tell me you were dumped?”
“We weren’t going out in the first place. I was only teaching her the basics of being an adventurer.”
“Oh, is that so? Anyway, where’s that girl now?”
“She went back to her homeland. It seems like her mother suddenly fell ill, so she’ll be taking a break from being an adventurer to tend to her mother.”
So that’s the excuse she went with. It’s quite impressive for her to be able to keep up that pure, innocent newbie image all the way to the end. Well, as long as he doesn’t find out, it’d just be a happy memory for him.
She’s no longer in this town, so I suppose there’s no reason to reveal the truth.
I caught a glimpse of her a couple of days before, and she seemed genuinely haggard from the two sleepless nights she had before. She probably won’t be coming back to this town anytime soon.
“It was completely unexpected, and she used up all her money buying her equipment, so I gave her all the money I had on hand to help with the treatment. I hope it’d come in handy…”
That bitch! She had him around her finger all the way to the end… And Taylor too! How could he be tricked so easily!?
“Anyway, I don’t have any money at the moment. I would like to take a quest right now, so would you join me?”
“I’m always broke, so I don’t mind.”
Keith and Lynn nodded in agreement.
These guys always ignore me whenever I’m broke, but they’ll happily help Taylor out, huh?
…That’s what I wanted to say, but just for today, I’ll lend a hand to that kind hearted leader of ours.