A Cutting Light in this Forest of Beasts!
Editor: Makentosh, Ulti
On that day.
“Just what is wrong with you!? Give it up already!”
Even though it was almost noon, Kazuma was still lying under his blanket.
When I beat on it, Kazuma poked his head out and said.
“There’s a famous saying where I’m from that goes ‘The moment you give up is the moment where it’s actually over’. Thus, I’ll never give up!”
“That’s a good saying, but you’re definitely not using it in the right situation! Today for sure, I’ll definitely drag you out on an adventure!”
Kazuma once again disappeared under the blankets and fiercely resisted when I tried to pull the covers off him.
However, there’s a large gulf in the difference between our strengths.
Such feeble resistance will not–
Kazuma stuck his hand out from under the blanket and drenched me with his spell.
As I retreated, trembling from my newly wet clothes, Kazuma once again stuck his head out from under the blanket.
“A curse upon all who would seek to prevent me from slumber. If you don’t leave this place immediately, I shall taint you with Create Earth next time.”
“That sounds a little cool, but I won’t retreat just because of that! No, actually, how dare you do such a thing!? I’m going to dry myself off with your blanket!”
“W-Wait, stop, you’ll get it wet! I get it, I was in the wrong! Now you just made it look like I wet the bed!”
Kazuma hastily got up after I trashed about on his bed.
“Besides, haven’t you been going on an adventure every day as of late? You defeated a giant frog and tokoroten slime and such, right?”
Kazuma said as he stretched.
“I don’t want to go after small fry monsters like that. Yunyun took down a wyvern together with Iris the other day, you know? Compared to her, all I managed to take down was Chappie!”
“What’s a Chappie?”
–As we made our way down stairs, we came across Darkness, dressed like the perfect picture of a noble lady, seemingly about to head out somewhere.
“W-What’s wrong, Megumin? You’re soaking wet.”
“This man drenched me with Create Water.”
Darkness started fidgeting when she heard that, and, poorly trying to keep her excitement in check, asked.
“Oh… What exactly did you do to get him to do that?”
“When I got onto his bed to wake him up, he suddenly bared his fangs at me. And not only was he not satisfied with drenching me, he even said that he will taint me if I don’t leave.”
“I know I was in the wrong, but please choose your words more carefully! And Darkness, stop fidgeting like that!”
“Darkness, hurry up and change too. We’re going on an adventure.”
“N-No, I’m headed off to the lord’s office right now to handle some urgent paperwork…”
Darkness reluctantly answered while clutching a packet of documents in her hand.
“I finally managed to get Kazuma up before noon, so why do you have to be busy today!? Just what is your occupation!?”
“I’m a noble lady acting on the lord of this land’s behalf! Ah, hey, give that back! If you get those documents wet, the ink will run!”
Just as I snatched the documents away from Darkness and she started tearing up from seeing the ink run.
“Sorry, but I can’t go with you on an adventure today either. Cecily brought back some high grade wine from Alcanretia as a souvenir, so I’m heading over to the Axis church to throw a party.”
Aqua, dressed like she’s heading out just like Darkness, ran into us and said.
“You too, Aqua!? And it’s not even noon yet! Just what exactly is your occupation, Aqua!?”
“I’m a goddess, of course.
I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but why is this party so dysfunctional?
Just then, the doorbell rang.
Kazuma went to open it, and on the other side was a familiar girl.
“Oh, if it isn’t the guild receptionist. My, my, if you came all the way here, does that mean you need my strength again?”
The person who came to visit us was one of the receptionists at the guild.
Kazuma started putting on airs the moment he saw her and casually laughed, but.
“Ah, no! It’s true that I came here with a job, but it isn’t for Satou-san. This request mentions Megumin-san by name…”
Ignoring Kazuma who fell silent, I dramatically flared my cloak.
“Oh, they requested me by name? That person has a good eye, I see. Very well, go ahead and lead me to this person!”
“Um, I don’t know why you’re soaking wet, but it’s fine if you want to change first. I can wait.”
Leaving behind Kazuma who started sulking because he wasn’t the one who was called, I made my way over to the adventurers guild.
When I got there…
“The one who put in the request is Barton-san. The location is at the capital.”
“Right, I think I’ll go home now.”
I turned right around and tried to leave the moment I heard that name, only for someone to pull on my cloak.
“W-What’s wrong, Megumin-san!? Please wait, the person who made the request is one of the people who made a large donation to the guild headquarters in the capital… ”
“Who cares about that? It’s true that I once accepted a request from him, but he’s a weirdo that loves monsters. It’s too heavy a burden for me to bear alone, so please ask someone else.”
I tried to pull away after saying that, but the guild lady just refused to let go of my cape.
“Megumin-san, are you really fine with that!? It’s a request from the famous Professor Barton, you know!? The same one who wrote the Professor Barton’s Monster Guide for Dummies that’s been in vogue in the capital lately!”
That’s strange, when I last met him, he didn’t give off the impression of a famed person, or even a person one would like to spend much time around.
There’s no reason for the guild show this much consideration for him…
“Ever since he published the ecology of the King Toad, a monster has long been regarded as a myth, he’s become a famous celebrity and an authority on matters of biology amongst the academic community.”
“What did you just say?”
The name of a monster I couldn’t possibly ignore suddenly came up.
“The King Toad is a monster whose habitat, ecology, and very appearance is unknown. Up till a few days ago, it was regarded as little more than an urban legend, until Professor Barton produced the remains of a King Toad–”
I produced my adventurer’s card and pointed towards the killed monsters column.
“Onee-san, please take a look at this. King Toad is written on it, right? Is there a large bounty placed on one?”
“Eh? W-Why would Megumin-san have such a monster in her… Er, well, the existence of a King Toad was only recently confirmed, so unfortunately, there isn’t a bounty on it…”
Even though it was such a tough monster, it wasn’t worth even a single eris.
Still, to think that that Barton-san is now a leading authority in the field of biology amongst the academic community…
“Huh!? Wait, below the King Toad, this named monster, a deadly poison slime named Chappie…”
Wait, hold on.
If he has become a leading authority, it’s a good bet that Barton-san is now quite affluent.
And we played a major role in getting him to this spot in the first place.
Even after taking out such a powerful monster, the reward we got was positively pitiful.
“Megumin-san, this Chappie is…”
“Very well, I accept that request!”
— After receiving the quest document, I left the guild lady who seemed like she wanted to say something behind and started searching for someone.
The person I’m looking for is, of course, my best friend who’s strong, reliable in such situations, and capable of casting teleport.
“I’m Beat, and this one is Claris. I’m a warrior and she’s a priest!”
“We just arrived in this town today, and we were wondering if you would like to join us? You’re a spellcaster, right? You don’t seem to be a member of a party, and in terms of jobs, the three of us are pretty well balanced.”
It didn’t take long for me to locate my best friend.
However, something is strange.
A pair of people not too far from our age is calling out to her, and Yunyun is awkwardly looking around her with a blank look on her face.
Eventually, she pointed a trembling finger at herself.
“… U-Umm, could you be talking to me?”
“Of course we are. Who else could we be talking to?”
“Ahaha, are you nervous? Don’t worry, this will be our first quest too!”
It seems like Yunyun is getting hit on by some newly arrived adventurers.
“A-Aaa… M-My name is Yunyun! I’m not anyone special, but, p-p-pleased to work with you!”
She must be quite happy to be invited like this, for she deeply bowed with tears in her eyes.
“There’s no need to be nervous. I defeated several monsters back at my village, so I’m already level 4.”
“What a cute name! I’m just level 2, but I’m wearing a set of steel chainmail, so we’ll do just fine against frogs!”
Yunyun blushed upon hearing the girl named Claris complimenting her name.
“L-Leave it to me! With the power leveling technique passed down by the Crimson Demons, ‘Cultivation’, both of you will have double digits in levels by the end of the day!”
“Haha, I’ll look forward to that! Though, I feel like I’ve heard the phrase Crimson Demon somewhere before…”
“That sounds familiar too… By the way, what level are you, Yunyun? Could it be that you can already use intermediate magic?”
Yunyun stiffened up for a moment when the topic of her level is broached, and she let out a nervous laugh to cover it up.
“My level is, well… It’s high enough to make use of intermediate magic, at least!”
“You’re selling yourself short, you know? This girl can not only use Intermediate Magic, she can use spells like Teleport and Light of Saber. In fact, she’s an Archwizard whose level is over 40.”
When I interjected, Yunyun instant froze up.
“O-O-Over level 40!?”
The two newbie adventurers let out an incredulous voice.
“And she’s not just an average Archwizard. She’s a Crimson Demon who are born with a high aptitude for magic. It’s best for you two to party up with someone around your level when you’re first starting out.”
“Sorry for calling out to you when we are such weaklings!”
“S-S-S-Sorry! We just came to this town, so we didn’t know! Please forgive us!”
The two newbie adventurers beat a hasty retreat after hearing my words.
I grabbed Yunyun, who reached out her hand towards the two in an attempt to stop them by the shoulder and wagged my finger in front of her.
“Let them go. They are sure to find a party suitable for them. The only thing we veteran adventurers can do is cheer them on from afar.”
At those words, Yunyun lunged at me and grabbed me by the collar…
“W-What are you doing!? Please calm down! My throat- I- I can’t breathe…!”
After calming Yunyun down, we teleported over to the capital.
“…Seriously, you’re way too short tempered, Yunyun. And you’re the next chief of the Crimson Demons, so please don’t form a party with any random newbie that happens to ask. The people back at the village will lose their faith in you if they hear about it.”
“You’re one to talk about short tempered! … Someone actually asked me to join their party…”
“You already have me as your party member, don’t you? We’ll be heading out on an adventure after we fetch Iris. Barton-san submitted a request for us.”
I explained the circumstances that brought us to the capital to a still sulking Yunyun.
“That strange wildlife researcher? Is it really fine to bring Iris along? He might end up actually getting executed this time, you know?”
Even if you say that, the quest he posted specifically requested for the same party members as the previous time we met.
Looking up at the royal castle in front of her, Yunyun uneasily muttered.
“Plus, I get the feeling that we are really pushing our luck by casually visiting the castle so often like this…”
“Listen to what I’m saying!”
The guard manning the gate frowned upon laying sight on us.
“We came to invite Iris out. Please tell her that her friend Megumin is here to see her.”
“Sorry, we can’t exactly let the princess of this country go out to play whenever you feel like it…”
“See, the guard is saying that too! I’ll handle Barton-san’s request somehow, so let’s go already!”
Yunyun hastily said after hearing the guard’s words.
“We don’t even know what kind of quest it is, so do you really think a party of just two mages will cut it? What we really need is a strong vanguard. And I don’t think there’s a stronger vanguard than Iris.”
“You are planning to use Iris-sama as a vanguard for a quest!? Now there’s definitely no way we can let you take her away.”
Throwing a side glance at Yunyun who started tearing up, I thought of a great idea.
“Then what about this? In place of Iris, why don’t you come with us instead? A castle guard would be more than sufficient as a Vanguard.”
“I’m in the middle of work…”
“Sorry, this girl is a little bit of an idiot! I’ll be taking her away immediately!”
Yunyun said such rude thing while grabbing onto my arm.
“Are you really fine with letting two friends of Iris go out on a quest without a vanguard? It’s just us two girls you know? If anything happens to us, I’m sure Iris would be heartbroken.”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Please don’t mind this girl’s words!”
As Yunyun apologized to the guard who had a troubled expression on his face, a fairly mature looking man appeared from the side gate.
“Then allow me to go with you. My shift will be up in just a short while anyway.”
“Eeh? Captain, are you sure about this!?”
The person who the guard referred to as captain certainly does looks strong.
“I used to be an adventurer too, so I won’t slow you down. Plus, I have the day off tomorrow. There’s no way I can let friends of Iris-sama go off on their own. Please leave being the vanguard to me.”
The captain smiled and confidently said.
“Yunyun, seems like we’ve managed to secure a strong looking person. He should be able to as a vanguard in place of Iris.”
“Is it really fine to bring someone from the castle along? Though, I suppose this is better than exposing Iris-chan to danger…”
Then, the sound of a bell ringing could be heard throughout the town.
“Right, that’s the end of my shift. I’ll head out with you if you need a vanguard, so please give up on dragging Iris-sama out, okay?”
“Very well. I get less chances to shine when Iris is around anyway, so, thinking about it carefully, this arrangement might actually be better. Very well, I’ll stop inviting Iris-sama out from now on.”
Saying that, the captain and I shared a small laugh.
Just then, Yunyun pulled on my sleeve and frantically motioned towards the main gate.
Standing behind the gate was a teary eyed Iris with puffed up cheeks.
“How could you say something like that! I can’t believe Boss is such a heartless person!”
“I couldn’t help it, you are a princess, after all.”
Iris has been sulking this whole time while we made our way to the capital’s adventurers guild.
Walking next to her, Yunyun, who was periodically glancing behind her, said.
“Still, that knight captain seemed pretty strong. Couldn’t we take him along too?”
“Yeah, he even wanted to come with us.”
The captain guy offered to come along to act as Iris’s bodyguard, but…
“I alone will be enough as a vanguard! I’ll show you exactly what I can do today!”
“If you go all out, I’ll lose any chances I have to shine! You’re my underling, so please behave yourself!”
We continued arguing all the way to the guild, and standing right at the entrance, waiting for us, is the wildlife researcher, Barton.
“I’ve been waiting for you all! I’m really glad you showed up!”
Upon seeing us, Barton adjusted his glasses and happily called out to us.
And Iris replied with a smile on her face.
“It’s been some time, Barton-sama! I’ve heard that your book has been flying off the shelves ever since you were credited with the discovery of the King Toad. Congratulations!”
However, Barton continued staring at me as though he couldn’t hear Iris’s voice.
Yunyun uneasily asked.
“… What’s wrong, Barton-san? Don’t tell me you forgot about Iris-chan? There’s a limit as to how disrespectful you can be, you know?”
When Barton remained silent, I said.
“It has been some time, Professor Barton.”
“It has, Megumin-kun! They officially recognised me as a professor after that trip! This is all thanks to you, I really can’t thank you enough!”
Yeah, his personality is still as troublesome as ever.
“E-Er, Professor Barton, let me start over again. It has been some time. Congrats on your book becoming a bestseller.”
“Ahh, thank you very much, Iris-kun! Would you like a signature?”
“A-Ah, there’s no need…”
Still seemingly ignorant of Iris’s true identity, Barton gave her a teasing smile.
“Say, Megumin, maybe it’s really best to make something happen to him while we are on the quest…”
“You sure think up some really scary things every so often This man is pretty famous now, so don’t try anything, okay?”
After I whispered to Yunyun, Barton turned towards me with a serious look on his face.
“Now then, there’s only one reason why the leading authority on ecology and the author of a best selling book called you all here today. You see, after we took out the King Toad on that quest back then, it was clear skies the day after…”
Come to think of it, the rainy season really did end after we took out the King Toad.
The reason why he put up the quest to take out a King Toad is because the girl he had his eye on told him that she’d go on a date with him if it was sunny.
It really was a stupid reason, now that I think about it.
Still, it turned out that him and that Barbara-san were childhood friends, so things might have ended up going well between the two of them.
“So what happened with Barbara-san? Did you scare her off with your arrogance?”
“What are you saying? Things went very well after that. She even asked me for a date the other day. It was really cute seeing her as me for this and that.”
Barton dreamily smiled.
“Ah, I see. You went from a washed up self-proclaimed professor to a famous best selling author in an instant, so–”
“Megumin, shhh! You can’t say that out loud!”
Yunyun clasped her hand over my mouth, and Iris approached him with a smile to divert his attention.
“So, Professor Barton, why did you call us all here today?”
“Oh, right! You see, I bought everything Barbara-chan wanted, but at the last jewelery store, she rejected the wedding ring that I bought on a whim. That was the best that shop offered…”
… I see.
“In other words, she’ll accept other presents, but she finds such heavy gifts to be bothersome–”
“You really shouldn’t say that!”
Barton gave me a wry smile.
“So that really was it, huh…? The truth is, I called you down here to get some relationship advice from you all. I followed your advice the other day when you taught me about the feelings of women, and it seemed to go pretty well, but it might just be my own imagination…”
“Ah, well, the only reason I came here today is to get some more money after you made it rich off the back of the King Toad that we eliminated–”
“Stop being so straightforward already!”
Yunyun pushed me from behind before I could finish my sentence.
“I understand how Barbara-sama is feeling!”
Fist clenched and with sparkling eyes for some reason, Iris suddenly interrupted.
She raised her hand and showed off the cheap ring that seemed completely unfitting for a princess.
“Look at this! This ring is by no means expensive, however, out of all the rings and jewels that I received, this is my most precious possession. Leaving other presents aside, when it comes to a ring, something that comes from the heart is far more important than the price. That’s why…!”
If I recall, that’s’ the ring that Kazuma gave her.
I felt my brow twitch when she so proudly held that ring out before her, and Barton let out a deep sigh.
“Even if a kid like you were to talk about the feelings of women…”
“I’m seriously giving you advice here! Just what is wrong with you!?”
Iris angrily stomped her feet, but Barton gazed off into the distance with a placid expression.
“Still, you might be a child, but you’re also a girl. I see, a heartfelt gift…”
Barton thought on that for a moment, before he suddenly said,
“Megumin-kun, change of plans! I would like you to acquire a few items for me!”
“Apologize! Apologize for treating me like a child!”
Just as Iris grabbed him by the shoulders and aggressively shook him.
What actually is a heartfelt item varies from person to person.
Personally, I think that lining up early at a popular store to get your hands on a limited edition item is more than enough.
For people who are good with their hands, a handmade item would work too.
Alternatively, if someone were to work hard and buy a ring worth three times what they make in a month, I’d be more than happy regardless of the actual monetary value of the ring.
However, when you talk about a heartfelt item from a man who studies monsters, well, that can only be–
“Barton-san! Barton-san! Barton-san!”
“Call me Professor Barton, Yunyun-kun! That creature is called a magic eater! It’s a spirit type monster that can consume magic! Their numbers have been steadily going down, so it’s not easy to find one! A truly rare monster!”
In the forests near the capital, a swarm of white glowing balls are chasing after us while laughing creepily.
“Barton-san, magic doesn’t work on this monster! Doesn’t it have some kind of weak point!?”
“Call me Professor Barton, Yunyun-kun! A magic eater consumes almost all the power from any magic spell cast at it! Use either Light of Saber, that converts the user’s magic power into a single strike, or Explosion, that contains more energy than what a magic eater can absorb. Those are the two most practical ways for a magic user to defeat one!”
Hearing that, Yunyun raised her right hand and chanted a spell.
“Light of Saber!”
A flash of light split one of the glowing lights chasing us into two.
“Barton-san, it’s sticking to me!”
“Call me professor-! Graah, use light of saber a hundred times in a row! That will definitely…”
“I don’t have the mana for that! Is there really no other way!? Otherwise we’ll just get Megumin to use her Explosion on it!”
I want to say it’s my turn to shine, but I feel like it’s a little bit of a waste to cast my Explosion on a few measly glowing balls when I’m in a forest full of strong creatures in every direction.
“It should technically take damage from a magical weapon! However, to defeat a magic eater, you need to use a fairly powerful magic weapon, otherwise…”
The moment Barton said that, one of the floating lights that were chasing us was sliced through and faded away.
With her softly glowing sword in hand, Iris swung it at the second glowing ball, vanquishing it too.
Seems like she brought the national treasure, Blahblahcalibur with her this time.
[For some reason yuns translated Iris’s divine relic as just Calibur in volume 10. The original text is なんとかカリバー(Nantoka-Calibur), which roughly translates to “something something calibur”, or, the version I’m going with, Blahblahcalibur. Anyway, I’ll be using this version going forward.]
Perhaps feeling safe after seeing that, Barton stopped running to catch his breath.
“Well done, Iris-kun. I’ll give you my signature when we get back to the city.”
“A-Ah, there’s no need… More importantly, why is such a strong monster going extinct?”
Iris asked as she took care of yet another one of those glowing lights.
“Good question, Iris-kun! You see, magic eaters are attracted to strong magic power, so they tend to gather around strong monsters in order to feed on them. Most monsters don’t take kindly to such intrusion. There was a period of time when the Demon King’s castle was positively glimmering with swarms of these things.”
… Strong magic power.
“So, all these Magic Eaters were drawn towards us because of a strong magic user here, right?”
“Indeed, Megumin-kun. The culprit that attracted all these magic eaters is amongst us!”
After finishing off the last of the Magic Eaters, Iris stared at Barton for a moment before turning away and muttering.
“As expected of Boss and Yunyun-san. The power of the Crimson Demons really is something, isn’t it?”
“Well, it’s not that powerful…”
“I don’t think it was Megumin or I who drew them here…”
Sheathing her sword, Iris presented an expensive looking necklace that she’s wearing.
“I-It definitely isn’t my fault, okay? I got a powerful magic item to help restrain the magic aura I have after scaring away all the tokoroten slime the other day!”
“Magic eaters are attracted to powerful magic items too.”
The moment Barton said that, Iris tried her best to hide her necklace and magic artifact that is her sword behind her.
“So, Professor Barton, did you see any trace of the Crystal Liger that you’re looking for?”
Yes, the reason why we traveled so deep into the forests in the first place is to search for a monster that is already rumoured to be extinct in order to gather the materials for Barton to create his heartfelt gift.
A Crystal Liger is, like its name suggests, a monster that is completely covered head to toe in crystal-like growths. Killing one would not only earn you fame, but the materials it provides can be sold for a small fortune, so it was frequently sought out by adventurers.
Due to that, it was hunted extensively. Nowadays, it’s generally accepted that the Crystal Liger has long since gone extinct, and it’s almost impossible to buy those materials on the market.
“There’s definitely one of them in this forest. My gut as the leading authority of biology says so. Crystal Ligers are cautious and cunning, so ordinary adventurers won’t even find a trace of them. However, for me…”
Normally I would just dismiss what he’s saying as pure nonsense, but he did lead us to the King Toad in the past.
He must have some kind of reasoning if he’s this confident.
Even though we are deep in the woods, Barton is still constantly looking at his feet.
After some time, Barton picked up a stick and started digging at the ground beneath the roots of a tree.
Soon afterwards, he unearthed a lump of black material, which he studied for a brief moment.
Perhaps that action piqued her curiosity, but Iris too drew up next to Barton and gave him an inquisitive look.
“What is this black thing?”
“Ohoh? Are you curious about it? Why don’t you try poking it with your sword?”
Iris followed Barton’s suggestion and poked the lump with her sword. As she did so, the lump cracked open with a pop…”
“I-It stinks! Professor Barton, just what is…!?”
“That’s monster droppings. … Hey, keep that sword away from me!”
Ignoring Iris who started shaking her sword with tears in her eyes, Barton crouched down and took a closer look at the piece of poop.
“There’s no mistaking it! There’s a hard fragment in the center of this dropping. This are the droppings of a Crystal Liger! Good work, Iris-kun! It’s only thanks to you stabbing the poop with your sword that we were able to identify it!”
“Um, isn’t there a better way you can phrase it…?”
Iris said with tears in her eyes as she tried to get rid of the stuff clinging onto her sword.
“It’s nice that we are able to find the poop of a Crystal Liger and all, but what do we do next? If we had an Archer with the Tracking skill, we would be able to chase it down from these poop, but…”
“Say, Megumin, can you not say that word repeatedly?”
[Thanks to Kasen for the coloured pictures]
In response to my question, Barton let out a victorious smile.
“Cautious monsters like Crystal Ligers are really careful about where they leave their droppings. If we found some here, that means this is within its territory.”
Saying that, Barton looked around for a brief moment before locating something and picking it up.
“I found it! This is part of the skin of a Crystal Liger! It must have rubbed its body against this tree to break its old skin apart to make way for new growth! It was crushed and buried, but you can’t fool me that easily!”
What he held in his hand is a jewel so small that even if it were to be placed in a ring, it’d probably draw less attention than my fingernail.
“Then, all we need to do is to find the monster itself. Liger type creatures tend to be fairly agile, but no matter how agile it is, it won’t be able to get out of the range of an Explosion.”
However, for some reason, Barton shook his head with a frown.
“No, we can’t do that. Crystal Ligers are even rarer than magic eaters. So, even if we do encounter one, we’ll just take the tip of its tail. Ligers can regenerate their tails even if it’s been cut off, and the jewel from the tail would be more than sufficient to make a fairly impressive ring!”
“You’re a little weird, but you do act like a proper wildlife researcher at times. Still, the tip of the tail, huh? That means…”
All of our gazes naturally drifted towards Iris and the glittering sword she’s holding.
“–Crystal Ligers are attracted to anything that shines and glitters. On top of that, they are particularly attracted to high quality jewels. Even if this one is particularly cautious, it won’t be able to overcome its instincts. Still, I’ve only managed to get my hands on a bunch of cheap jewels…”
Barton is scattering cheap jewels at a small clearing a short distance away from where we found the droppings.
“Of course, dragons are also attracted to shiny items. It’s been said that gold and jewels have innate magic or lead creatures astray and other such tales, but… Megumin-kun… Megumin-kun! Pleased stop picking up the jewels that I just scattered!”
Finding myself picking up those jewels before I knew it, hearing those words brought me to my senses.
“I see, jewels do really have the power to lead creatures astray. To think that even I, a Crimson Demon with high magic resistance, could be so easily affected…”
“In your case, it’s just because of your personality.”
I ignored Yunyun’s words and scattered the jewels that I picked up.
I detected an intense gaze directed towards me.
I turned towards that direction, and standing right there in the shade of the trees was a cat type monster, its hide glittering in the few beams of sunlight that made its way through the trees.
It was even larger than a rookie killer, and its gaze was fixed squarely upon Iris’s chest, where a necklace that no commoner could ever dream of getting their hands on is glimmering…
“… Say, Iris, about that necklace of yours. In addition to being a magic item, it seems to have a lot of jewels on it too. I have to ask, just how expensive is it?”
“… I heard it’s considered a national treasure…”
The Crystal Liger let out a roar as it leapt directly for Iris–
“Yunyun, slow it down! It’ll become a really big problem if the necklace ends up stolen!”
“Iris-chan, run for it! Bottomless Swamp!”
Yunyun frantically created a tarpit beneath the feet of the liger.
However, it simply leapt upwards, seemingly completely unfazed by the sudden appearance of the swamp beneath its feet, and used the branches of the trees as its footholds to continue advancing.
It completely ignored us, making a beeline straight for Iris who was standing in front of Barton with her sword at the ready.
“Liger type creatures like the Crystal Ligers are generally all great climbers! Yunyun-kun! Did you not read my book even after it’s become a bestseller!? That’s a minus for an adventurer!”
“If you allow me to take it out, I wouldn’t need to slow it down in the first place! Doesn’t it have any weaknesses!?”
Drawing her dagger with her right hand, and holding her wand with her left, Yunyun snapped at Barton.
Having fled next to me, Barton let out a confident smile.
“Leave that to me! Liger type monsters can’t reach their backs with their front legs! Thus, if you want to pet them, all you need to do is approach from behind…”
“Megumin, please prepare to use your Explosion!”
“Rookie killer type monsters are cool and I quite like them, but I suppose there’s no helping it in this case.”
“Wait! Wait! Wait!”
As I gave up on cutting off the tail and started chanting, Barton grabbed my staff and refused to let go.
Seeing that, Iris threw away her sword and ran forward.
“Yunyun-san! I’ll hold it still with my bare hands for a moment, so can you use Light of Saber to slice off the tip of the tail during that time!?”
“Bare hands!? Iris-chan, forget about it! Even if it’s a nearly extinct creature, let’s just exterminate it!”
“Yunyun-kun, please wait! As a wildlife researcher, I cannot accept that!”
The persistent Barton clung onto Yunyun while shaking his head.
I placed my hand on Barton’s shoulder and gave him a serious look.
“Barton-san, your spirit as a wildlife researcher is admirable, but is that liger really worth protecting at the expense of Iris’s safety? Even if you get your hands on that jewel, are you really going to give that bloodstained jewel to Barbara-san?”
The liger, seemingly suspicious after seeing Iris put away her sword, came to a halt and gazed warily at her.
Even though her magic power has been suppressed by the necklace, the instincts of a powerful monster aren’t so easily fooled.
As expected of a liger type monster, this one is smart.
“Hey, Megumin, what is up with you!? I told you, no matter how poor you are, you shouldn’t eat stuff you picked up off the ground! You didn’t eat those unknown mushrooms we came across along the way, did you!?”
Here I am trying to have a serious conversation, but Yunyun just had to butt in.
“Oh shut up, you’re ruining my persuasion attempt! If something happens to Iris or that national treasure, our heads might end up rolling! Just let me sweet talk him into allowing us to wrap up this quest!”
“You should say such things in a softer voice! …Still, I suppose giving Barbara-chan a jewel acquired by exposing a child to danger wouldn’t make her happy at all…”
“Barton-sama, if you keep treating me like a kid even when you’re hiding behind me, even I will get mad!”
And just as Iris, who’s still engaged in a stare down with the liger, said that.
“Iris-kun, leave this to me. I’ll need to borrow your necklace.”
With resolve burning in his eyes, Barton ran forward.
At the same time, Yunyun hastily started chanting a spell.
That spell she’s preparing is most likely the Light of Saber that’s she so favours.
“Barton-san, that necklace is apparently a national treasure. I can’t let you go on if you intend to grab it and run.”
“Megumin-kun, this is important, so please don’t get in my way! I’ll be the bait. The moment it turns to chase after me, use that to cut off the tip of its tail. I’m the wildlife researcher Barton. There’s no way I would be afraid of a monster!”
“Professor Barton…!” x2
Yunyun and Iris let out an impressed voice. Of course, it’s a little undercut by how Barton’s knees are shaking.
“It’s best not to push yourself. You got recognition as a professor and a fortune by way of your royalties. You could just give up on Barbara-san and go after a younger girl instead. With your fame and fortune, I’m sure they’ll be just lining up for you.”
“Megumin-kun, do you hate me or something!? Why do you have to pop my bubble every time!?”
Barton said as he received the necklace from Iris.
“… The liger is acting really strangely. It like it is frightened by something…”
The liger that was facing Iris down just a moment ago suddenly stiffened up.
It’s almost like a housecat standing before a bear…
“Aah! That necklace was suppressing my magic power, so that’s probably…!”
The liger leapt backwards the moment Iris raised her voice.
“Oh, yeah, that necklace was to prevent you from scaring away weak monsters. Now that it’s removed…”
“T-There’s no need to be afraid. See, I’m unarmed!”
Iris smiled and spread her arms before the liger in an attempt to assuage it…
But the liger just maintained its gaze on Iris while slowly backing away…
“How about this!?”
With a loud cry, Barton suddenly threw away his clothes.
“Yunyun, another rare monster appeared! It’d be a bad influence on Iris, so let us take care of it!”
“Understood. I’ve always been worried that he might do something to Iris, but to think that he’d actually make a move.”
As Yunyun and I moved forward, the newly appeared monster angrily protested.
“I’m being serious here! Listen up, liger type monsters have a specific pose that they make to demonstrate their submission to an alpha! The lie on the ground like this and expose their stomach and throat! I’m trying to make it think that we are weaklings so it doesn’t run away!”
“I think it’s more afraid of you than Iris right now.”
Seeing Barton, clad in only a pair of underwear, make beckoning motions to the liger seemed to only make it take another few steps back.
“Is it because it saw a wildlife researcher strip!? Is it picking up on my aura of authority…?”
“Any creature would be on guard after running into a rare specimen like Barton-san.”
“Light of Saber!!”
Having completed her chant, Yunyun sent a flash of light towards the liger’s tail.
However, the liger, being on guard, managed to dodge that by the skin of its teeth.
“Roger! Leave it to me!”
I grabbed Iris’s holy sword and threw it forward, and Iris rolled forward and snatched it out of the air–!
By the time we could see the edge of the forest, the sun was already on the verge of setting.
“It’s gotten awfully late out. I’m a little worried that they might have thrown the capital into chaos searching for you, Iris.”
Hearing my words, Iris trembled slightly.
“Yeah. But that’s not the only thing you’re worried about, right?”
Iris once again stiffened upon hearing Yunyun’s follow up.
“… I wonder if I can pay for the necklace with my royalties…”
“I-I’m sorry! I’ll make sure this won’t cause trouble for you, so please rest easy!”
Upon hearing Barton’s mutterings, Iris hastily apologized.
“It couldn’t be helped. Who knew a liger could pull off such an act? Still, you really are a child, Iris. You should learn a little more from me. I can unleash my explosion on a family of loving onion ducks.”
“You should learn to have a little more compassion.”
Back then, after Iris received her holy sword, she slashed at the liger’s tail, but…
“Still, I shouldn’t have forgotten that a Crystal Liger is an evolved version of a Rookie Killer. To think that it would take advantage of human pity and compassion to steal that necklace…”
The opponent was a liger, a family of monsters that’s famed for having high intelligence.
When it saw Iris launching her attack, it acted wounded and let out a pitiful mew, and used the slim opening that created to snatch away the necklace and escape.
We were caught completely off guard.
“Well, I was the one at fault for aiming for the jewel of a Crystal Liger in the first place. I’ll apologize to your parents and compensate you, Iris-kun. I am a leading authority and the author of a best selling book, after all. If I lower my head, they shouldn’t have any reason to get angry!”
This old man still hasn’t figured out Iris’s true identity. I think it might really be best for him to see the ire of the important people at the castle first hand.
Then, Yunyun let out a wry smile.
“There’s no way we can let our client do such a thing. It’s not exactly rare for adventurers to lose some pieces of equipment while on a quest.”
“Y-Yeah. I was the one who brought that expensive necklace out in the first place, so it has nothing to do with Barton-san! I’ll just give my father a shoulder massage and take things from there…”
Iris has become particularly crafty as of late. Most likely because she’s being influenced by a certain someone.
“Leaving the matter of the necklace aside, what are we going to do about Barton-san’s wedding ring?”
Iris and Yunyun let out a small groan in response to my question.
“You don’t have to worry about that. Behold!”
With a flourish, Barton produced an extremely small crystal fragment.
That was the same crystal that he picked up while we were chasing the liger’s tracks.
“You said it, didn’t you, Iris-kun? Something that comes from the heart is far more important than the price. This is just a small crystal, but it’s a crystal that I acquired with my own hands. Nothing could be more heartfelt… Nah, this won’t work. W-Would it?”
Barton started out really strong, but slowly lost his confidence as he went on after seeing our dumbfounded expressions.
Seeing Barton wavering like this, I gave him a reassuring smile and said.
“… It isn’t too bad. It seems like you understand the heart of women a little more now.”
“–Right then, let’s hurry up and turn it into a ring. Barton-san, I’m not as familiar with such matters as Megumin, but I’m sure it’ll be fine. It’s a piece of crystal found from a monster thought to be extinct, so I’m sure she’ll be happy!”
Barton nodded happily along with Yunyun’s words, before suddenly turning pale.
“Oh, right! If word gets out that a Crystal Liger was sighted, people might end up actually driving them to extinction this time”
“Just give up on that one. It stole Iris’s necklace, after all, so there’s no need to feel sorry for it.”
“N-No way! As a wildlife researcher, I can’t…!”
In the first place,
“You didn’t care the least about extinction or what not when we found the mythical King Toad the last time.”
“Don’t compare my beloved liger type monsters to a frog.”
This man really is…
“Then let’s just accept that you aren’t fated to be together with Barbara-chan and go home. Actually, if we don’t get Iris back soon…”
“Yeah. There’s still the matter of the necklace to worry about.”
“Wait, wait, wait!! I’m terribly indebted to you all, and trust you very much! Can I please borrow the knowledge of the Crimson Demons!? There has to be a way to introduce this jewel into the world without putting the Crystal Ligers at risk!”
Barton wailed while clinging onto me. I kinda think he’s annoying, but at the same time, as a Crimson Demon, there has to be some trick I can pull–
“Well, there is one. All you have to do is defeat that Crystal Liger. Then there is no need to worry about anyone going after it.”
“What kind of absurd statement are you saying?”
Barton, the jewel still in his hand, grabbed his head as he thought.
Towards him, I said.
“It’s really fortunate that I didn’t run into any strong enemies on our trip today. Thanks to that, I still have my mana.”
“…? Megumin-kun, what are you saying?”
Unlike Barton, whose expression was one of confusion, Yunyun seemed to have understood something of what I’m getting at as she suddenly stiffened.
“W-Wait a minute! We are right next to the capital right now! If you want to let it off, you need to do it deeper in the forest…!”
Hearing that, Iris approached with an air of anticipation.
“Boss, it’s fine! As the princess of Belzerg, I shall bear witness to the vanquishing of the Crystal Liger!”
Barton made a really strange sound upon hearing Iris’s words.
Yunyun turned to Iris with a wry smile and said.
“Iris-chan, even if you were to vouch for her, the adventurer’s card will record down the monsters that you take out, so…”
“It’ll be fine!”
“It’s fine!? No, it’s actually bad that you’re fine with something like this!”
Yunyun scolded Iris who was showing her a carefree smile. Still, Iris has really been becoming more and more like a certain someone I know as of late.
“Right, then there’s no problem. Now, Barton-san, I won’t forgive you if you mess up your proposal even after making the princess of a kingdom and a great Crimson Demon mage go this far for you.”
Barton has been staring at Iris in a daze ever since he made that strange sound a short time back.
Judging from how profusely he’s sweating right now, it would seem that he finally realized who Iris really is.
An extremely nervous Barton, a green faced Yunyun, and Iris who’s excited for some reason.
Facing the three of them, I raised my staff and declared.
“Right, etch everything I say right now into your memory. With the help of the wildlife researcher Barton, we found a thought-to-be-extinct Crystal Liger in the forests near the capital. Hearing that it’s a rare existence, I, who is somewhat of a renowned figure in Axel, couldn’t restrain myself and unleashed my explosion on it right here. The near extinct Crystal Liger was reduced to dust alongside the necklace that it stole from Iris!”
Finishing with a flourish, I started my chant for explosion…
And made an explosive flower bloom in the forests next to the capital–!
–At a small bar tucked away in a alleys of the capital.
Barton offered a ring towards a beautiful looking girl that seemed to be the owner of the place.
We, who were observing them from quite some distance away, had no idea what they said to each other.
“Barton-san and Barbara-san both look really happy.”
“Yeah! Seems like there’s no need to ask him about how it went!”
Just as Yunyun and Iris said, is clear to everyone how things went.
“As you can see, those two who have been living alongside each other for years without knowing about the other person’s feelings have finally ended up together. Can’t we just accept that happy ending and leave it as it is?”
“Of course not! It’s forbidden to release Explosion magic close to the capital! And what do you mean by Crystal Liger!? Those things have gone extinct a long time ago!”
The one currently holding me in custody is a female police officer.
As expected of the elite officers who work in the capital city, they won’t be fooled so easily.
“If you need proof, all you have to do is ask Barton-san! It’s small, but he has a genuine fragment of its skin!”
“Nevermind that matter! The important thing is the fact that you unleashed Explosion right next to the capital!”
The officer pulled on my cheeks, and I’m unable to resist due to exhausting my mana and being bound by rope on top of that.
“S-Stop! How could you fool around with a girl who can’t move!? You still call yourself a police officer!?”
“Stop phrasing it like that! Dammit, why is a girl like this a friend of Iris-sama…!? If she wasn’t, I would’ve had her behind bars a long time ago!”
With a frustrated expression, the officer looked towards Iris who was smiling as she observed Barton from afar before reluctantly untying the rope.
“… That was smart of you. That girl is pretty much my underling. If you’ve continued to keep us in custody, you would’ve tasted the holy sword Blahblahcalibur first hand.”
“Iris-sama wouldn’t do something so unreasonable. Listen up, if you use explosion close to the capital again, I’ll have to barr you from the city entirely.”
“We will not bow down to threats. This is the pride of the Crimson Demons-!”
“That sounds cool, but you still shouldn’t say that! Really, don’t ever unleash your explosion around the capital again, you hear!?
“Hey, we’re here. You should’ve regained enough mana to walk by yourself by now, right? Stop clinging onto me already.”
By the time Yunyun carried me back to the mansion, it’s gotten completely dark out.
“… It’s great that things worked out for Barton-san, isn’t it?”
“I could’ve gone without getting yelled at the end. Why did they only get angry at me?”
After that, we brought Iris back to the castle, and got a lecture from Claire.
After that, we got a lecture from Rain. And after that…
“You really worried the people in the castle, didn’t you?”
Indeed, I had to listen to lectures from a whole ton of people from the castle, from the knight captain all the way down to the maids.
Well, their precious princess was out until so late, so I suppose it’s to be expected, but…
“But, what is up with them only lecturing me even though Iris was the one who willingly went out? The only thing that happened was a little national treasure going missing.”
“You should be thankful that you got away with only a lecture after causing such a ruckus.”
Yunyun just had to have a response for every line.
Still, my recent adventures have been fun and all, but they aren’t exactly the kind of adventures that I’m looking for.
I’ve been playing the role of reining everyone in, and that’s not really what I want. What I want is…
“Besides, you’re the leader of our party, aren’t you? So you need to properly take responsibility if anything happens.”
Even though she would normally never say that, Yunyun started teasing me all of a sudden.
“Being a party leader is all work and no fun…”
“… I-If it’s that much work, I wouldn’t mind taking the role… I mean, I’ll be the next Chief of the Crimson Demons, so I’ll need to get some practice in being a leader one way or another…”
Seeing Yunyun fidget with an expectant look in her eyes kinda pisses me off.
“Still, I suppose it will be best to avoid inviting Iris to come on our adventures for a while. Without her magic sealing necklace, she’ll just scare all the monsters away.”
“Iris-chan looked really sad when we parted ways. I really want to do something for her… S-So, anyway, about the leader thing…”
Iris was insistent that the Crystal Liger that we ran into was taken out by me, so we managed to brush over that, but it doesn’t change the fact that we couldn’t retrieve the stolen necklace.
I suppose we could go after monsters that are powerful enough not to flee even after seeing Iris’s immense magical aura, but…
“It’ll probably be impossible for us to get that necklace back.”
Iris, Yunyun, and me are fairly specialized in combat, but we can’t really do much outside of it.
We would need to be able to track down a fleeing monster, and, more importantly, the party would need to follow precise instructions.
“With such an ill coordinated party…”
“Hey, you’re the most problematic out of all of us, so why are you talking like it’s someone else’s problem!?”
With just a naive princess and a loner girl, even if they had the girl with the strongest firepower in the world and high intelligence leading them, it would be a completely impossible task.
“Hey, why are you sighing while looking at me? You haven’t even considered yourself, have you?”
I would much rather prefer to be the one using my abilities to their fullest rather than ordering others about.
This is made abundantly clear to me on the past few adventures I had without Kazuma.
“Leave Iris’s necklace to me. I know someone who is very reliable in cases like this.”
It seems like Yunyun knows exactly who I’m talking about.
“… Kazuma-san must really have it rough too.”
… I have to agree with her.
Darkness, who can’t hit any of her attacks and has a really strange fetish on top of that.
Aqua, who has bad luck and is prone to clumsiness, and will get into trouble the moment you take your eyes off her.
With those two problem children in the party, even Kazuma would get mentally exhausted dealing with them.
Well, I guess I just have to make up for them.
“Now then, it’s gotten quite late out. I’ll tell him about what happened today and ask for Kazuma’s help tomorrow. He has a pretty kind side to him, so I’m sure he’ll do something about it.”
“… Kazuma-san really does have it rough every day. It is really hard dealing with someone who is a problem child yet thinks of herself as the most sensible person.”
After waving goodbye to Yunyun who was saying something incomprehensible while looking sadly towards the mansion, I opened the door to the mansion.