A Search for this Runaway Goddess!
Editing: Striker, Ulti, Xenthur
Coloured illustrations: Kasen
The self-proclaimed goddess who’s supposed to be of a sensible age has run away from home.
It sounds too ridiculous to even think about, but this is the unvarnished truth.
Aqua left behind a letter before disappearing from the mansion.
And, as for us who were left behind–
“Allow us to get to the main issue. As many of you may have already suspected, the reason we gathered all you adventurers here today is because of the rumours that the Demon King’s army is planning a sneak attack on this town.”
Rather than chasing after Aqua, I found myself at the adventurer’s guild instead.
After all, I received an urgent summons from the guild.
I would’ve loved to leave matters like these aside in order to go after Aqua, but this does concern the safety of this town I spent over a year living in. I couldn’t just leave it be.
The tables in the guild have been rearranged to form a circle, and all the adventurers were crowded around it.
It seems like they rounded us up here today in order to think up countermeasures against the sneak attack.
After interrogating Serena, we found out that even though the person who came up with the plan had been captured, the plan was already in place and would go ahead even without her present.
As everyone struggled to come to terms with this piece of bad news, one of the female mages raised her hand.
“Do we know exactly when they will be attacking? What about their numbers? Actually, if we already know that they are coming, can’t we just ask the capital to send a few knights down?”
The other adventurers nodded along to her words, but the receptionist that seemed to be the leading figure in this guild, Luna, shook her head.
“According to the general we captured the other day, they originally intended to infiltrate the town and attack from the inside, so the amount of forces they had prepared was quite small. But, now that we have captured the commander, they would most likely try and get her back. That means they will probably attack with a larger force.”
Well, at the end of the day, she is a general of the Demon King’s army. If she’s alive, of course they’ll attempt to save her.
“We don’t know the exact numbers, but given that this town is mostly filled with fledgling adventurers, it’s expected to be a pretty tough fight. As for seeking aid from the capital… It seems like the Demon King’s army is intending to launch a full-scale attack on the capital concurrently…”
With a face that seemed to be on the verge of tears, Luna sighed and continued.
“So, to be perfectly frank, it’s best not to hold much hope for reinforcements. After all, it’ll all be over if the capital falls. The other guilds in the area have already been informed of the attack and are currently sending over skilled adventurers and soldiers to the capital. We can only rely on ourselves to defend this town…”
After finishing, Luna looked darkly at the assembled adventurers.
In other words, this is the biggest crisis of this town since the encounter with the mobile fortress Destroyer.
After coming to terms with this news, the various adventurers starting raising suggestions of their own.
Sealing the town gates, digging traps and fortifications in the surrounding countryside, arming the citizens to form an emergency militia… And other such ideas.
Some of those ideas showed some promise, but most of them were only effective in very limited ways, and none of them were able to guarantee Axel’s safety.
However, just like the time with the Destroyer, I couldn’t feel any hint of despair or desperation from the adventurers.
There might be a difference in strength, but the enemy is still the Demon King’s army that would die if you stab them.
They might be low-leveled adventurers, but if they all worked together, they’d be able to handle it somehow.
Such an optimistic atmosphere spread throughout the guild.
… What should I do?
The reason I came here was to get some extra help to search for Aqua.
… Maybe it’s best to delay looking for her until after the safety of Axel has been secured?
Though, Aqua was saying something about how the best chance to attack would be when the Demon King’s castle is left vulnerable after their army launches their attack on the capital.
In that case, there’s a chance that that rabid goddess would just head straight for the castle.
And there’s not much I can really do by remaining in this town now that I’ve been reduced to level one again.
Still, it’s a little hard to say that I’m leaving to go search for my companion when everyone in this room is coming together for the defence of the town…
It would be like I’m making an excuse to run away or something…
“Satou… Satou Kazuma. I don’t see Aqua-sama anywhere. Where is she?”
Just as I was agonising over this, one of the guys suddenly called out to me.
“… ? Oh, Yamazaki. Long time no see.”
“It’s Mitsurugi! Hurry up and remember my name already! That doesn’t even sound remotely close! You’re not doing this on purpose, are you!? … No, nevermind. More importantly, what happened to Aqua-sama? Is she not with you today?”
The person who called out to me was the swordmaster with the magic sword leading his two female hanger-ons, Mitsurugi.
“Aqua left behind a letter before running away from home. Actually, what are you doing here? Weren’t you covering yourself in glory in the capital? Is it really fine to leave the capital during such a crisis?”
“I heard Axel is in danger, so I came here to provide support. This is the place Aqua-sama chose to call home, after all… Still, she ran away? So Aqua-sama finally got sick of you, huh? Anyway, where is she right now?”
“That’s what I would like to know. She wrote that she’s heading off to take down the Demon King before slipping off into the night. If she caught the midnight carriage, she’ll probably be close to Alcanretia right now. With the number of Demon King’s generals reduced severely, she feels like she can break through the barrier right now, or so she says.”
“Take down the Demon King!!?”
Mitsurugi’s voice echoed through the guild.
The volume and significance of his words brought a hush amongst the surrounding adventurers.
In the middle of all of this, Mitsurugi grabbed me by my collar.
“Alone!? Aqua-sama went off to take on the Demon King by herself!? Then what are you doing hanging around here!?”
“Even if you say that, I just discovered she was missing a short while ago! Then there was an announcement, so I found myself here!”
Having listened to our exchange, the adventurers around me suddenly erupted into voices, acting like a beehive that was knocked over.
“Aqua left on a journey alone!? Come on, that’s way too reckless.”
“How could she think of going out alone!? And at night too!? She’d be swarmed with undead in no time!”
“Aqua-san is famous for not having any survival skills. She still occasionally gets lost in this town even after having lived here for so long. There’s no way she is going to make it to the Demon King’s Castle!”
It’s a little late to say it now, but she really isn’t thought of very highly, is she?
“Calm down! Everyone, please calm down! … Has anyone here seen Aqua-san today?”
Luna’s voice rose over the guild, and the place fell silent for a moment.
After some time, the adventurers eventually started exchanging information about Aqua, but nothing that pointed us to her current location.
It’s a little irrelevant, but Aqua seemed to have made a lot of friends in this town without me noticing it.
Even the adventurers who I’ve only exchanged a few words with were all getting worried about Aqua.
… She’s surprisingly sociable, huh?
Guess it isn’t surprising for her to receive such a huge shock when the adventurers all turned on her when they are this close.
… And to think that she’d make so many people worry for her. When I find her, I’m going to lecture her until she’s in tears.
For that purpose, I need to…!
“I-I can’t linger around here! I’m heading off after Aqua-sama! Satou Kazuma, what do you intend to do!? You’re going after her, right!? Want to come along with me!?”
Mitsurugi said what I was thinking.
“T-That would be a problem! There’s a pressing need for high leveled adventurers like you to assist in the defence of the capital or this town…! I’ll send out an urgent notice to the other guilds to search for Aqua-san, so…!”
Luna frantically said upon hearing Mitsurugi’s words.
… Just then.
“Hey, if he wants to go, then just let him!”
A certain blonde-haired thug, drunk even though it’s still the middle of the day, suddenly said.
“We can handle the defence of this town with just the people here. Nee-chan, you might not be aware of this, but there are plenty of high level adventurers in this town. There’s no need to beg this brat who is constantly surrounded by two women for help, just rely on us!”
The delinquent with the evil-seeming eyes crossed his legs on the chair and said something that sounded both simultaneously cool and embarrassing.
Standing next to Dust was Yunyun, who seemed to be hesitating between trying to stop him or not.
And, sitting at the same table was Keith and the others from Dust’s party, looking at the situation with amusement, making absolutely no moves to stop him.
It’s nice to finally see Yunyun with companions she can hang out with at the guild, but I think she could really stand to be more discerning when it comes to her friends.
Still, how many high level adventurers do we have?
“Even if you say that… ! How many adventurers do we have that are above level 20? I reckon most of the adventurers here have levels between ten and the low twenties at best. By convention, most adventurers would leave this town after hitting level 20 and move on to other towns surrounded by stronger monsters. We’d be very lucky just to have a handful of people here above level 20… ”
I glanced over at Luna as she said that with a flustered look on her face.
Wait, we’re supposed to move on once we reach level twenty?
We had a house in this town, so I didn’t really pay such conventions any mind, but…
It doesn’t feel that way given how much we struggle even against small fry monsters, but we are technically a fairly high leveled party in this town, aren’t we?
Leaving me aside, our average party level should be somewhere in the thirties.
Not to mention Megumin is probably one of the highest leveled adventurers in this town.
I don’t know how fast regular parties usually level up, but our progress is probably much faster considering all the various strong enemies that we had to fight.
One of the male adventurers stood up and said.
“I’m level thirty two.”
Luna let out a surprised gasp in response.
Following that, another one of the male adventurers rose to his feet.
“Umm… I’m level thirty eight….”
Following their lead, various other adventurers within the guild stood up and announced their levels.
Everyone who did so had levels above thirty.
There were even a few who had levels in the forties.
Luna checked their adventurer’s cards with a disbelieving look in her eyes…
“… W-Why are all of you staying in this town even after achieving such a high level!? The monsters around here don’t provide a lot of experience points…”
And said in a voice equal parts surprise and puzzlement.
In response, one of the adventurers shyly said.
“Isn’t it obvious? That’s because we love this town.”
Such heartwarming words…
“E-Everyone… ! Let’s protect this town! We can do it! With this many strong adventurers together, we’ll definitely be able to protect this town! Let’s give it our all! Please lend me your strength and protect this town…!”
Luna was practically moved to tears as she said that.
However, I know the truth.
All of the adventurers who stood up were all, without exception, men.
Furthermore, I’m very familiar with them.
… These people are all regulars at the Succubus shop.
Ignoring the other adventurers who have developed a raucous atmosphere, Mitsurugi produced a map and laid it out on one of the tables.
“Here. That’s where the Demon King’s castle is located.”
Mitsurugi pointed to a black castle drawn on the northwest portion of the map.
After that, he pointed towards the capital, which is not far to the south of the castle.
“As you can see, the fastest way to get to the Demon King’s castle is to teleport to the capital and hoof it to the castle. There are several fortified towns and fortresses along the path, much like the one you visited not too long ago, from which a traveller can replenish their supplies.”
As he explained, Mitsurugi traced the path between the two places with his finger.
Just then, Megumin, who was seated next to me, opened her mouth.
“… Would Aqua really take the simplest route to her destination? I feel like she’ll definitely go off on a weird detour that only makes sense to her… In any case, I genuinely doubt she’d choose such a straightforward course.. It’s possible that she might still be nearby, debating if she really wants to set off or not.”
Darkness nodded along as Megumin said something that perfectly encapsulates Aqua’s thought process.
Of course, I think so too.
It’s Aqua we’re talking about after all. I wouldn’t be surprised if she got cold feet halfway through and decided to take the longest, safest route she could think of in the hopes of having us catch up with her.
She might even be touring the various villages along the way and getting into trouble because of her curiosity.
After looking at the map for a while…
“It’s a little out of the way, but you can make it to the Demon King’s castle from Alcanretia too.”
I muttered under my breath.
The capital of water, Alcanretia.
It’s the headquarters of the Axis Cult, and it’s to the southwest of the Crimson Demon’s village.
However, to the northwest of Alcanretia lies a thin line that runs from that city all the way to the Demon King’s castle.
It’s probably drawn so thinly because that route is hardly ever used, but it’s definitely there.
Let me put myself in Aqua’s head for a little bit.
She confidently left the house this morning and started out on the road.
However, judging from the postscript of that letter, she was already having some second thoughts by the time she wrote it.
In other words, she’ll definitely be afraid to head out on her own.
Even though we just discovered that there is an unexpected number of high level adventurers living in this town, for the most part, the adventurers here are beginners.
Even if she wants to hire some other adventurers to serve as her bodyguards, it would be best to search for some more skilled adventurers at one of the other towns and cities.
“It’s her we are talking about, so she’ll probably include some really high requirements in her recruitment notices, just like when we first started searching for companions in this town…”
Back when the party was just me and Aqua, she wrote “advanced classes only” on the recruitment notices we put out, and in the end, only Megumin showed up.
If I recall, that was back when we were having trouble dealing with even five frogs, and wanted to get a few more party members to bolster our capabilities.
“It really brings back memories, doesn’t it? Back then, I used up all the money I had and hadn’t eaten for many days before I happened to chance upon the recruitment notice…”
Megumin said with a hint of nostalgia in her voice.
“And I resolved to join this party after seeing Megumin and Aqua covered in the frog’s slimey internal fluids. Seeing Aqua wailing while covered in slime and Megumin hanging, limp and lifeless, onto Kazuma made me think that maybe even someone as clumsy as me could also… Ah! Cut it out, Megumin! That’s the truth, isn’t it!?”
Ignoring Megumin who started pulling on Darkness’s hair, I traced the line on the map with my finger and said.
“I think this is the most likely path that Aqua would take. She would most likely stick to places she is already familiar with, so, instead of going to the capital, she’ll take the carriage to Alcanretia and try to recruit companions there. But this is Aqua we are talking about. She’ll probably put in some really high requirements and end up getting nobody. Afterwards, out of options and too afraid to continue traveling on her own, she’ll most likely go crying to the Axis Cult for help.”
“… Yeah, that sounds like her.”
“I can absolutely picture her doing that.”
“N-No, wait a minute. Just what kind of person do you think Aqua-sama is?”
Mitsurugi was the only person who raised any objections to my perfect prediction.
Come to think of it, does he still not know what kind of person Aqua is?
“You probably have a lot of questions, but this is most likely the route she’s planning to take. We didn’t spend so long together without getting to know her. She might have a considerable head start on us, but she’ll definitely get into all kinds of trouble along the way and be held up as a result, so we’ll definitely catch up with her even if we set off now.”
Mitsurugi nodded disbelievingly in response to my words.
“… Well, if you say so… It’s almost noon now. If we hurry, we’ll be able to board the sightseeing carriage that runs from here to Alcanretia. It’s a little slow, but if we offer the driver some money to pick up the pace, we should be able to catch up to Aqua-sama. Right, then…”
He quickly got up to his feet.
Luna made no efforts to stop him.
Things being the way they are, she’ll probably let us go as well.
Luna, perhaps a little worried about Aqua too, gave us a faint smile as we stood up, before calling the other adventurers over to her.
“Now, then, everyone, we’ll start dividing you into groups! Everyone who’s already part of a party, please gather together. I’ll be giving every party a number and role…”
The various adventurers gathered up into small parties and lined up in front of Luna.
I, Megumin, Darkness, Mitsurugi, and his two hanger-ons stood some distance away.
Then, just as Luna started handing out numbers to the various parties…
Yunyun was left all alone in a corner.
… Oh, yeah, she’s the kind of person who’s always left out in these types of situations.
After some time spent aimlessly staring around, Yunyun finally approached Dust’s party, but she maintained a fair distance between herself and them, not technically alone but also not exactly part of the group.
— But it didn’t take long for Dust to notice her.
“Hey, what are you doing? This isn’t your place.”
Hearing Dust’s completely unexpected and extreme words, I was reminded of the circumstance of when I first got involved with him.
Yeah, he’s that kind of person, isn’t he?
I felt he was becoming better recently, but I guess it was just my imagination after all.
“Umm… I-I’m sorry…”
Yunyun bowed repeatedly as she prepared to leave Dust and his party.
No matter how you look at it, this is way too much.
Just as I was about to intervene.
“Where are you going? Your place is over there, isn’t it?”
Dust grabbed Yunyun’s shoulder before she could move too far away and directed her towards me.
“… … ?”
Yunyun, having been moved towards me, gave Dust a confused look.
“In terms of combat prowess, you’re probably ranked first or second in this town, right? If a true Crimson Demon like you were to join forces with that irksome magic sword wielder, you might actually be able to face down the Demon King, don’t you think? Go hunt down that damned annoying Demon King and knock him down a couple of times in our place.”
“Hey, if Yunyun is a true Crimson Demon, what does that make me? Why don’t you make it clear right now?”
Megumin started raising a fuss upon hearing Dust’s words, but Yunyun simply regarded him with a look of bewilderment.
“I’m a little worried just leaving these guys on their own. If it was just to get Aqua-nee-chan back, it’ll be fine, but it’s these guys we are talking about. They might end up getting dragged into fighting yet another troublesome enemy. It’d be safer to have a real Archmage like you with them… Come now, you can cast teleport, can’t you? If push comes to shove, you can just teleport back here on your own, no problem.”
This little delinquent, how could you say that kind of crap at the end?
“Hey, why don’t you tell me exactly what kind of Archmage I am if not a real one!?”
Just as Megumin started pressing Dust.
“– I understand. I’ll be off to help Aqua-san! I-It’s only natural to help a f-friend in need…”
As Yunyun said that with a blush, she let out a smile.
Luna, who has been following the conversation, seems a bit reluctant to let Yunyun who is able to use Advanced magic go. But, perhaps because she doesn’t want to get into an argument with Dust, she didn’t say anything.
“Crimson Demons are a race that will never back down from a fight. Very well, I’ll take you on. Let’s take this outside!”
Just as Megumin grabbed Dust by the collar and was struggling to pull him outside, Mitsurugi, wearing a dashing smile on his face, extended a hand to Yunyun.
“Seems like it’s decided, then. Now… Yunyun, was it? Shall we head off? Having an Archmage on the team is certainly comforting. It doesn’t seem like you have a party yet, so, if you want, I’ll be happy to have you in our party after everything’s done.”
“Umm… T-That’s… I’m fine.”
Yunyun, after taking Mitsurugi’s hand into a brief handshake, rejected his invitation.
“I-It’s fine, Kyouya! You have us, don’t you!?”
“Y-Yeah! Sure, it might be good for the party balance to have her join us, but she seems to be a fairly famous mage in town…! So, um, well, this can’t be helped!”
The two hanger-ons quickly comforted Mitsurugi, who seemed to have taken quite the shock from getting rejected.
“Dust-kun! Dust-kun! Look, the handsome hunk got rejected! He even extended his hand like he’s hitting on her! Seems like even hunks can get rejected!”
“Gyahahaha! Even the legendary loner knows how to pick her friends!”
“T-That’s not it…! I-If I join up, I’ll just create trouble for…! T-T-That’s not it…! Dust-san, Kazuma-san! Please cut it out!”
Seeing Dust and me take the opportunity to tease Mitsurugi, Yunyun hastily tried to explain herself.
“A-Annoying! Those two are really annoying! Kyouya, there’s no need to pay any heed to what people as lonely seeming as them say!”
“Hey, delinquent, go over there! Shoo, shoo!”
As the two hanger ons expressed their displeasure towards us, Mitsurugi finally seemed to regain some of his spirit.
“N-now then, we should get moving… The ones who will be going after Aqua-sama would be me, my two companions, and the four of you lead by Satou, right… However, I feel like this journey presents a great opportunity. If the Demon King’s army intends to attack both this town and the capital at the same time, the defence of the castle would be lowered to its weakest state. If Aqua-sama were to break through the barrier that they are relying on… What do you think? I think it’ll work.”
This guy is saying something really similar to what Aqua did.
And, saying something like this in this atmosphere is a little…
“Sorry, but I have no intention of heading out after Aqua. The reason I originally came here in the first place is to put out a request for a few high level adventurers to go after her. After all, my current level is one.”
After hearing my words.
“L-Level one? How could this have happened? You were quite weak in the first place. That means…”
“Hey, you lost to the ‘quite weak’ me multiple times, so you don’t get to say that!”
If I had a cheat magic sword or something like this guy, of course I would be going after Aqua too.
However, after having all my stats be reduced back to level one, I’m just a common everyman, no, a being of civilized society that is most likely weaker than the average person in this world. There’s no way I’m heading out to the wilderness in such a state.
“No, more importantly, Satou Kazuma! Do you seriously intend to leave the fate of Aqua-sama in the hands of others!? Even after being together for so long!? Are you really… Wait, hold on, how many times did you say I lost to you? The only occasion I lost to you was the time you stole my magic sword from me…”
As Mitsurugi seemed to have caught onto something and started muttering to himself, Megumin uneasily said to me.
“Kazuma, are you really not going to go after Aqua? If it’s about your level, I’m pretty sure you can raise a few levels on the journey…”
“I really want to go after her, but right now even a single goblin is a major threat to me. You’re high leveled, and Darkness is tough, so you two will be fine, but all I’ll do is slow you down.”
“No, I’ll properly protect you, so, Kazuma…”
“Aqua isn’t around right now. In other words, if I slip up and die, I won’t be able to get revived. If you really think that you ever made me feel at ease during any of our previous adventures, then please, do tell me.”
The two of them swiftly averted their gaze.
“… You know, I really hate the heroine character that occasionally appears in manga and anime who shoots off on her own due to a strong sense of justice or whatever, only to end up getting taken captive. If the only thing I can do is get in the way, I think it’s best for everyone to leave it in the hands of someone capable instead.”
That useless goddess is the perfect example of such a character right now.
More importantly, her objective is to defeat the Demon King and go back to heaven.
Even if I were to catch up with her and bring her back, it wouldn’t solve anything.
Just then, Mitsurugi took a deep breath and said.
“… I see. Very well. You don’t have a divine relic or any special powers, so as you are right now, you’re simply a normal high schooler. I won’t force someone like you to go on such a grueling journey. In your place, I’ll catch up with Aqua-sama, then head on to defeat the Demon King. Is that okay?”
“If you are really capable of defeating him, I don’t mind, but just so you know, that’s a death flag.”
I might say that, but still …
“Though, as you’ve said earlier, if Aqua and Yunyun were to join your party, I feel like you’d stand a pretty good chance against the Demon King. In terms of party balance, it’s the perfect composition.”
Mitsurugi gave me a surprised look.
The Demon King isn’t someone I can defeat with luck or cheap tricks like the previous bosses that I faced. The final battle with the Demon King should really be handled by a proper cheat wielding protagonist.
If anything, just making it this far has been an extraordinary string of good luck and coincidence.
I’m not so reckless as to just walk in there without any preparations, simply hoping for a miracle to happen.
I’ve been reduced to level one and stripped of what little combat prowess I had, so it’s best to put such matters to the side for the moment and focus on getting stronger.
“Megumin, Darkness, I’ll just get in the way if I tag along, but you two are pretty strong, so go with Mitsurugi after Aqua. I’ll watch the house.”
Leaving me aside, those two will probably be a great help when it comes time to face the Demon King.
Thus, it’s best for them to tag along with Mitsurugi who’s also going to face the Demon King.
But Megumin, after falling silent for a moment.
“… No, I will stay here. I know I’m not exactly easy to work around. Without Kazuma’s directions, I’ll definitely blow my load on the first monster that jumps out at us and end up being luggage. I’ll await her return here with you.”
“… In that case, I’ll remain here too. A Crusader’s main role is to defend others, after all. Defending Axel would most likely be a better use of my talents. Plus…”
Darkness trailed off, repeatedly glancing towards me and the floor.
“… No, it’s nothing.”
What is it? If you have something to say, just say it.
Actually, it isn’t just Darkness. Megumin too is fidgeting around, seemingly wanting to say something yet keeping silent.
… Just what are these two up to? If you keep doing this, I’m going to use Steal on you.
After seeing off Mitsurugi and Yunyun, we went back to the mansion without doing anything else in particular.
Megumin, who opened the door first, yelled that even though there wasn’t anyone else at home.
… No, that’s not exactly true. Chomusuke, attracted by the voice, came running to the entrance hall to greet her.
“Oh, no, I’m not letting you out to play. There are some really dangerous vegetables growing in the yard right now. You’ll have to play inside the house until it’s time to harvest them.”
Megumin picked up Chomusuke as she started pawing at the door.
I really wanted to take care of those vegetables while everyone else is out.
Darkness, going into the main hall, looked around uneasily.
“… Hmm? What’s the matter?”
“A-Ah, no, it’s nothing. It’s just, I’m used to hearing Aqua say ‘Welcome back’ every time we come back home…”
It seems like she’s feeling a little lonely now that she isn’t able to hear Aqua’s voice.
… True, she’s always raising a fuss, but it is a little unsettling without her present.
Though, usually it’s worrisome not to see her around because I can’t help but wonder what kind of trouble she’s getting up to while she’s out of my sight.
“Oh, there’s a letter addressed to Kazuma here.”
Megumin, who looked into the letter box, picked it up and handed it over to me.
I thought it might have been a letter sent by Aqua calling for aid after she’d gotten into a tight spot for a moment, but I froze up once I noticed the name on the letter.
“Oh, it’s a letter from my sister!”
“It’s a letter from Iris-sama! Show some respect!”
Ignoring Darkness who chose this moment to say some meaningless things for some reason, I eagerly opened the letter and started reading–
The leaves have started falling and the snow sprites have started poking their heads out. I hope this letter finds you well in such cold weather.
Me writing to you at such a late juncture can only be for one reason. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, the Demon King’s army plans on launching an all out attack on the capital.
The one who will lead this attack will most likely be the final Demon King’s General, the Demon King’s daughter.
It’s reported that the Demon King’s daughter is good at leading troops, and once attacked the famously combative Crimson Demons in their village and razed it to the ground.
This clash will most likely be one of the fiercest in living memory.
This letter ended up being like a farewell message, but don’t worry. There are many strong people with black hair and eyes like Onii-sama in the capital, so everything should be fine.
After all, all the elite warriors from all over the world, including the Crimson Demons, are currently gathering at the capital!
I heard that Onii-sama lost a life while trying to capture the Demon King’s General, Serena, the other day.
I’m happy to hear that you once again achieved another feather to put in your cap, but please don’t be too reckless.
I heard that the Demon King’s army is planning to attack the town of Axel at the same time, so I pray for your safety.
I’ll strive to become a good sister that Onii-sama can be proud of.
Belzerg Stylish Sword Iris.
PS: Will you praise me if I defeat the Demon King’s daughter?”
“… … ” x3
All of us fell silent after reading the letter.
… Wait, isn’t this pretty dangerous?
She’s written down some really dangerous sounding stuff like making me proud and taking down the Demon King’s daughter and the like.
“Say, Iris isn’t going to fight, is she? In such a situation, the princess would be snuck out of the city in order to preserve the royal bloodline, right?”
“Under normal circumstances, yes… but even amongst the royal family, the blood of heroes flows especially strongly in the veins of Iris-sama. If this country, the defense line against the forces of the Demon King, were to fall, it could mean the end of humanity. In such a case, she might end up taking the field as humanity’s trump card…”
Darkness uneasily said that, making me feel uneasy too.
“That girl will be fine. After all, she’s my follower and my left hand. She’ll definitely send the Demon King’s daughter back home in tears.”
“H-Hey, if you keep treating Iris-sama like she’s below you, someone might really take your head off.”
Megumin confidently said, but I still couldn’t get rid of the flutters in my stomach.
It’s the same sense of foreboding that I felt when I could do nothing but watch Serena go about her business in this town.
First Aqua and now Iris. Can I really do nothing but watch when the people I care about are in danger?
No, I think I’ve always been like this.
I remember this feeling very well.
It’s the same feeling I felt when I saw my childhood friend and first crush riding on the back of a bad boy sempai as he cruised by on his motorcycle.
Back then, I told myself that there was nothing I could do and ended up becoming a hikikomori.
But I gained the chance to redo everything again when I came to this world.
Dammit, times like this make me really wish I had a cheat of my own.
If only I had something that could stand up against the Demon King–
“This guy is grabbing his head and muttering to himself. Should we do something?”
“He’s probably having a mental crisis after hearing that the young Iris-sama might have to be sent out into battle too… Right.”
After Megumin and Darkness whispered something to each other, they both approached me and said.
“Say, Kazuma, if you don’t have any plans, why don’t you come with us for a change a pace? I want to try going back to our roots and challenging what could be said to be our arch nemesis.”
Well, when we talk about our roots and arch nemesis, there’s only one kind of monster we can be referring to.
In the sprawling plains right next to Axel—
“I told you I’m level one, didn’t I!? One slip and I’m dead! Darkness! Darkness! Hurry up and do something about that frog!”
I’m being chased by a giant frog.
“No, wait, Darkness, please do something about this first! It’s already up to my neck! This is the furthest I’ve ever been swallowed!”
Megumin has already used her magic and is desperately screaming after having been swallowed all the way to her neck.
“You are already useless, so just stand by! If I get swallowed, I won’t be able to hold out until this clumsy fool is able to land an attack!”
“You can only say that because you haven’t been swallowed enough! Being swallowed is the most primal form of fear that exists in any living creature!”
“You were the one who said it was warm and comfy inside a frog’s mouth back when you got swallowed in the winter!”
As I was arguing with Megumin, Darkness, quite some distance behind the frog that was chasing me, raised her greatsword and shouted.
“Kazuma, I can’t do anything while the frog is moving like that, so just stay still for a moment! Don’t worry, trust me!”
“Who the hell can trust you in this situation! … Ah, right, your decoy skill! Why are you chasing after the frog in the first place?! Hurry up and use your Decoy skill to lure it towards you!”
“I’ve been using that skill since the beginning! Even frogs have the capacity to grow and learn! Plus, I’m wearing metal armour which frogs hate, so the Decoy skill isn’t having much effect!”
Dammit, I can never rely on her when it matters the most!
I drew the wire from my waist and threw it at the frog chasing me.
After confirming that the frog was firmly bound with my custom made wire, I came to a stop, trying to catch my breath.
“Seems like it really was the right choice not to go after Aqua.”
“N-No, wait! If it wasn’t a frog, my decoy would’ve definitely worked. Please believe in me!”
Ignoring Darkness who desperately came up with an excuse, I approached the bound frog and finished it off.
This is just part of the circle of life. I’ll make sure to turn you into a delicious dish tonight.
After giving the deceased frog my prayers, I busied myself with undoing the wire that got wrapped around it.
… Yes, removing the wires.
“… Wait, hold on.”
It feels like I’m missing something.
How was I able to use a skill in the first place?
I pulled out my adventurer’s card and examined it closely.
My level has risen to two after defeating that frog.
“Why do I have so many skill points.”
“What’s wrong, Kazuma? Is there something wrong with the card?”
Perhaps finding something off with me simply staring at my card, Darkness came over and asked.
“… Well, it’s not exactly something wrong. It’s just… ”
I gave Darkness the biggest smile I’ve ever made.
“My time might finally be here.”
I pushed my adventurer’s card towards her and pointed towards the line that listed my skill points.
“–Seriously, what do you mean by your time might finally be here!? And Darkness too, how could you forget about me while I’m inside the frog’s stomach!? Isn’t the role of a Crusader to protect her companions!?”
“I’m sorry.” x2
After returning to the mansion, we received a lecture from Megumin after she cleaned herself up in the bath.
I completely forgot about Megumin after making my tremendous discovery.
After proudly showing my card to Darkness, I turned to show it to Megumin too before realizing that she’s been completely swallowed by the frog.
Of course, I hurried to get her out, but…
“The thing that makes me angry the most is you using drain touch to give me some mana! You just don’t want to carry me because you think being covered in slime is gross, don’t you!?
“You know me too well… N-No, wait, Megumin, now is not the time for that! I made a really amazing discovery! So that’s why there’s a place I want to go!”
I hastily explained to Megumin as she moved to wring my neck all the way off.
If this goes well, it might actually be the start of my legend.
“I’m heading to Wiz’s shop! Forget waiting at home! Once we are done there, we are heading off after that idiot!”
The two of them seemed surprised for a moment after hearing me say that, but that quickly gave way to a gracious smile.
“Fu-Fuhahahahaha! Hahaha! Please look for me, she says! Hahahaha! What a spoilt goddess! She’s dailiying and secretly hoping for someone to come after her, while setting off on a journey to take out the Demon King! Fuhahahaha!”
After showing him the letter and explaining the situation, the part-timer devil broke out into raucous laughter.
“Vanir-san, you shouldn’t laugh so much! Aqua-sama went out on her own, you know!? Aaah, what should I do… This is Aqua-sama we are talking about, so I’m sure she’s gotten into some kind of trouble and is crying… So this is why she wanted to purify me the other day. It was to get rid of the barrier…”
As Wiz chastised Vanir, she also worked herself into a near panic as she read the letter again and again.
I came to Wiz’s magic item shop in order to purchase something…
“Vanir, I’ll take all the level reset potions that you have! Don’t worry about the price!”
Apart from Vanir, everyone who heard that startled in surprise.
“H-Hey, Kazuma, just what do you intend to do with those potions?”
“To reset my levels, of course! Through increasing and resetting my levels, I’m finally going to become a cheat protagonist myself!”
Even if your levels have gone down, you won’t forget the skills you learnt.
Any leftover skill points that you have won’t disappear if your level goes down either.
And in this town, I can gain a level just by killing a frog, and gaining a level also gives me a skill point.
It’s such an easy way to gain an infinite number of skill points. I have no idea why nobody ever tried it before.
Just as I was planning to relay what I discovered to everyone present–
“… Oh yes. So that is how it is. Humans truly come up with some interesting ideas. Repeatedly reducing your levels in order to more easily gain more levels and stockpiling skill points that way… But, well, normally, even if someone can do such a thing, there’s no need to go out of their way to do it.”
Vanir nodded with an intrigued look on his face while explaining every part of my plan.
I really wish he wouldn’t look into other people’s hearts on a whim and steal their words right out of their mouths.
“… They wouldn’t do that? Why not? Isn’t this perfect for gaining all the skill points they want?”
Vanir let out a chortle in response. It actually kinda pisses me off a little.
“Most normal people don’t need to worry so much about skill points. Almost everyone would be born with a certain number of skill points. It’s what they commonly refer to as natural talent. If you recall, that annoying goddess bought all the Archpriest skills with just the points she hand when she first became an Archpriest, didn’t she?”
… Come to think of it, Aqua did say that she learnt all the Archpriest skills along with the Party Tricks skill when we first started out.
I had exactly zero skill points when I first started out.
Does this mean I have no talent at all?
Ignoring my inner crisis, Vanir continued.
“Well, that cheating goddess is a pretty unique case, so let’s leave her aside for the moment. For instance, Crimson Demons are born with a high affinity for magic, so most of them have no problems learning Advanced Magic. From the moment they become an Archmage, they’ll usually have enough points to learn Advanced Magic. Even in the cases where they don’t, they have the “Farming” quick leveling up technique, skill up potions, and can rely on the village to help them gain the required points. Once they learn advanced magic, they’ll be able to gain levels even by themselves.”
There’s a Crimson Demon next to me who doesn’t know Advanced Magic, though.
But, well, Megumin and Darkness are just really particular about using their skill points. If you use skills normally, there should always be a use for extra skill points, right?
“… Even so, everyone would want more skill points, won’t they? Just killing a few frogs from outside the town would gain you a few levels. If everyone in this town were to repeat that process, won’t they have enough skill points to learn every skill in their class like Aqua?”
“… Umm, Kazuma…”
Megumin hesitantly called out to me.
“… It’s not that easy to raise your level, you know? Normally, it would take around a year to reach level ten. The target level for leaving this town beginner is 20, and it would usually take about five years to achieve that.”
“Megumin gains a lot of experience by taking out whole groups of enemies with her Explosion, and I eat plenty of foods stuffed with experience, so we gain levels a lot faster than most people. But, you, well…”
Seeing the two of them hem and haw over their words, Vanir cheerfully said.
“People with no talent have an easier time gaining levels. This is common knowledge in this world!”
… I turned my back on them and started toying with the merchandise on the shelves.
“In the first place, the only reason you can consider reducing your level so candidly is because you’re from another world. The lower your level, the weaker you get. The people who grew up in this harsh world would scarcely accept becoming weaker, even for a short moment. Only someone who grew up in a peaceful world like you could so easily accept reducing your level on purpose. Besides, unless one intends to learn some special skills like Explosion, by the time one becomes a veteran, they would already have learnt all the skills they need. Almost no one else would purposefully stick to the weakest class like you.”
“… From another world?” x2
Megumin and Darkness were stuck on a completely insignificant detail.
… Come to think of it, all I told them was that I came from a faraway country, didn’t I?
“What do you mean by he came from another world? Wasn’t Kazuma born in this world?”
“… I recall him saying that he came from a faraway country… ”
Damn Vanir, saying such unnecessary things at such a time…
“I’ll tell you about it later. Well, anyway, now I understand why people of this world wouldn’t make use of such a method. But I’m fine with the downsides, so please sell me all the level reset potions you have.”
“Unfortunately, there aren’t any left. That was an illegal item in the first place. Even creating it is illegal.”
“Then why were you jerking me around all this time for!? You read my mind, so you knew exactly what I wanted from the start, didn’t you!?”
“Fuhahaha, your dark emotions are delicious as always! Still, brat, it’s still too early to give up. As thanks for your delicious dark emotions, allow Moi to tell you something nice.”
This bastard, taking the chance to jerk me around just because Aqua isn’t here!
“All you need is to reduce your level, right? In this world, there’s a certain status effect that is considered particularly fiendish known as level drain. If you work with a monster that can inflict such a status…”
“I-I see! With that, I can raise and reduce my levels at will!”
Finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I excitedly exclaimed, and Vanir nodded in an amused fashion.
“Yes, indeed. However, the only monsters capable of inflicting level drain are really powerful undead type monsters. Normally, even finding one is a tough prospect, and amicably working with them is nearly impossible … But, fortunately, there is a powerful high class and friendly undead Lich right here!”
“Amazing! Unlike a certain useless goddess, you’re actually useful every once in a while!”
Just as Vanir frowned after being compared to a certain goddess,
“U-Umm… Liches do have the ability to inflict level drain, but unfortunately, I can’t inflict such a status effect at will. If a Lich attacks with hostile intent, they can inflict a random status effect while doing so, of which level drain is but one of them. Paralysis, sleep, fear, and curse are other possible results. There is also the possibility of inflicting life threatening status effects like instant death or petrification, so…”
“Is that so? Well, that’s a shame. Just forget everything I just said…”
Seeing me give up on this plan so easily, Megumin and Darkness let out a sigh while giving me a wry smile.
I know, but my life is more important.
“Steady effort is the best way to gain power. Power that’s easily gained will always have a cost that needs to be paid someday. And most of them usually comes with pretty huge demerits as well.”
Hearing Megumin’s words, I’m suddenly reminded of Aqua that I brought over as my cheat item.
When I chose her as my item, it was because I found her irksome and wanted to knock her down a peg or two.
However, there was a certain part of me that thought “Hey, if I bring a goddess that can grant any kind of wish along with me, wouldn’t that be like asking a genie for an infinite number of wishes?”
Maybe all the hardship that I suffered thanks to her is retribution for that.
“Even if you break into the Demon King’s castle and head for the Demon King, he would be protected by his bodyguards, so there won’t be any other option other than a straight up fight. If you think about it that way, the party composition you mentioned before about Mitsurugi’s party plus Yunyun and Aqua isn’t bad at all. It’s definitely thanks to you that Aqua can even break the barrier and corner the Demon King like this. You’ve already done enough, now is the time to rest.”
“Yeah. This is Aqua, after all. For all we know, she might have already gotten cold feet and is on her way back now. So, all we need to do is wait for her at home with a lecture prepared.”
Megumin and Darkness are offering me some rare words of comfort for once…
… No, even I am very well aware of the situation.
To tell the truth, I too want to go together with them after Aqua, then help her fulfill her wish of defeating the Demon King.
And there’s the only thing I can be proud of: my absurd luck that’s possibly worth calling a cheat on its own.
— Looking at the two of them give me resigned smiles and offer me comforting words, I gathered my resolve.
“… Say, Wiz, can I ask where your teleport waypoints are?”
Teleport can’t be used to just travel to any place you want to.
They can only be used to go to waypoints that have to be set in advance, and there can only be three of them.
Wiz seemed a little confused by my question, but still answered after only a short delay.
“My first waypoint is set at the entrance of this town. My second waypoint has been set at the Crimson Demon Village due to business reasons.”
“Wiz, first, change the waypoint you’ve set at the Crimson Demon Village to anywhere else.”
Vanir immediately spat out. It seems like he dislikes Wiz going to the Crimson Demon Village.
“The last waypoint is placed at what is said to be the deepest dungeon on this continent that I use to gather materials–”
I couldn’t help but yell out upon hearing the location of the last waypoint.
I recall her mentioning something about that back during the time we used random teleport on that coronatite during the fight with the mobile fortress Destroyer.
Such a dungeon would definitely be filled with plentiful experience points, no, I mean, strong monsters.
I bowed before Wiz.
“Wiz, please take me with you to the dungeon. And when my level goes up high enough, please use level drain on me.”
Wiz let out a surprised gasp, and Megumin and Darkness started raising a fuss too.
“Kazuma, weren’t you listening to her!? A Lich’s status effects are entirely random. Petrification and instant death are obvious, but with your constitution, even a status effect like curse that saps your stamina would prove fatal to you!”
“You are usually very cautious, so why do you come up with such reckless ideas every so often!? Right now Aqua isn’t here, if you die, that’ll be… ”
“Oh, shut up! You two, go speak with all the adventurers who have skills that would seem useful! I want to be able to start learning skills immediately the moment I get back from the dungeon!”
I snapped at the two of them who were endlessly fussing around me.
Megumin has been called joke mage and various similar nicknames by the rest of her village ever since they found out that she learnt Explosion, so she should be bursting with the desire to make them eat their words.
And there’s Darkness who decided to restrain herself, even though she would want nothing more than to go after Aqua immediately.
And then there’s Aqua, who despite getting lonely really easily, went off on her own to avoid getting the rest of us involved in her troubles.
… Seriously, every single one of them are always like this!
Even though they normally do nothing except what they want and cause trouble for others, they always act like proper people at the strangest of times!
If you were capable of such consideration, then show it right from the start!
“I might have a reputation for being an unscrupulous brute of a man, but I haven’t fallen so low that I would push everything off to someone else to handle! The status afflicting attack of a lich can result in a level drain, curse, paralysis, sleep, fear, petrification, and instant death, was it!? Amongst those, I need to avoid instant death, petrification, and curse, right!? You two have spent a lot of time with me, so tell me, do I really seem like the kind of man who would be unlucky enough to receive those status effects!? Now, hurry up and go!”
Imitating Aqua’s mannerisms, I made shooing motions towards Megumin and Darkness.
“A-Are you insane, Kazuma!? Um, wouldn’t it be best to at least get a priest to cast Bless on you before you get level drained–!?”
“W-Wait a minute, Kazuma, I can go with you to act as a meat shield against the monsters! It would be safer–!”
I shoved the two of them who were dragging their feet talking about all kinds of things out of the store.
Then, I once again turned back to Wiz.
“So, I’m terribly sorry, but can I trouble you to train me? I know it’s a little thick-skinned of me to ask a former Demon King’s General to help me gain the power to defeat the Demon King, but…”
“T-That’s, well, I too am worried about Aqua-sama, so I don’t mind, but… I can’t guarantee your safety with just me alone. The dungeon is really huge. It’s easy to get lost, and there are a lot of traps too… And most importantly, will my attack really not kill you… Ah, right!”
Wiz, who was making a troubled face earlier, suddenly clapped her hands together.
“Vanir-san! You can use your powers of foresight to check in advance if a status effect fatal to Kazuma-san would be applied. P-Plus, with Vanir-san there, we’ll be able to divine the correct path and see through any traps in our way.”
Vanir instantly rejected the idea that Wiz brought up, before breaking out into laughter.
“Fuhahaha, yes, tasting such dark emotions are precisely why this conversation has gone on so long! It is delicious indeed! The dark emotions from you two are truly delicious!”
This shitty devil. One of these days I’m going to purify him.
“Moi doesn’t care what happens to the Demon King, but why must a devil like Moi do something that might end up helping that goddess!? Fuhahaha, this will be interesting indeed! A goddess setting out on a mysterious journey, only to get lost and resort to chewing grass for sustenance before starving to death! Plus, there’s not a chance that she on her own would ever make it close to the Demon King’s castle. Fuhahahaha!”
“Vanir-san! Can’t you bring yourself to lend them a hand in such a situation!? If you are going to go that far, I have my own plans too!”
Seeing Wiz who had an uncharacteristic fire in her voice, Vanir’s smile quickly vanished from his face.
“Oh ho? Why don’t you tell me exactly what you plan? Do you really think Moi would cave in from mere threats–”
“I bought this crate of products in secret. I was considering returning some of it because there’s too much, but on second thought– Aah! Those aren’t the ones I’m planning on returning! Those are important goods, so don’t take them away!”
Watching Vanir try and shove Wiz off a crate of products that she’s shielding with her body, I said.
“Come to think of, Vanir, I still owe you a favour, don’t I? If you agree to safely escort and bring me back from the dungeon, I’ll return that favour right now.”
Vanir, pressing down Wiz’s head as she tried to take back the box of products from Vanir, warily said.
“Remember that time Aqua tossed me out of the mansion? You helped me sneak back into the mansion that night, didn’t you? I promised to buy some useless high priced goods from Wiz’s shop back then, didn’t I?”
“Oh ho, that did happen, didn’t it? … Rejoice, Wiz, the various pieces of trash that you bough will soon be turned to cash! So… Hey, let go already! There’s nothing important in this box at all! I’m selling it all away!”
“Wait! That isn’t garbage at all! That’s a rosary that is said to bring about wonderful encounters just by wearing it…!”
I said to those two who were still locked in a tug of war over that item.
“Aah, sorry, that isn’t the items I want to buy. I already have something in mind. Vanir will probably be jumping for joy to be able to finally sell those items…”
Useless Goddess Interlude 1
“Do you understand, Emperor Zell? If something were to happen to me, it’ll be up to you to save the world.”
I bid farewell to the sleeping Emperor Zell.
Even though Zell is in the presence of a goddess like me, he doesn’t seem like he has any intention of waking up.
Seems like he’s really something after all.
It’s said that long lived high ranking dragons will sleep for longer and longer periods the more powerful they get. I wonder exactly how powerful Zell will grow up to be when he’s capable of falling asleep even in the presence of a goddess.
“Listen well, Emperor Zell, even if something were to happen to me, don’t destroy the world in the process of taking revenge, you hear? That isn’t something your mother would want.”
Zell loves me very much, so I need to make this clear to him before I leave.
My beloved Emperor Zell remains fearless even in the face of the shell of a Devil, and in fact uses it as a nest.
To remain fearless even in the face of Devils and Goddesses, Zell truly is a dragon worthy of being crowned an emperor.
Crowned with a fiery red crest, a beak that shines like gold and unblemished feathers as white as snow.
As I ran my hands through Emperor Zell’s white plumage before leaving, I felt something nestle up to me.
“What is it, Black demonic beast? I usually lose to you, but Emperor Zell is here today, so I won’t lose. If I detect a hint of hostility from you, I’ll wake Emperor Zell up and have him get rid of you instantly.”
Curled up next to me feet was the mysterious demonic beast that singled me out to be its enemy.
I really wish it’d stop stealing my snacks and side dishes without a second thought.
“… W-What? What’s with you today? Why are you sticking to me so much today?”
Chomusuke repeatedly brushed its head against my hand, almost as if it’s asking for me to head pat it.
Normally it wouldn’t even allow me to touch it. Why are cats such selfish creatures?
What, you’re really fluffy and soft, aren’t you?
“Are you here to stop me after knowing that I’m heading off to take out the Demon King? But you’re too naive. Don’t think that you’ll be able to delay my departure just because your fur is a little fluffy… But, well, if you don’t mind letting me touch your belly too, I wouldn’t mind delaying my departure until tomorrow.”
Even though I tried to barter with it, perhaps because it isn’t willing to give up its belly, but it unsheathed its claws the moment I tried getting anywhere close.
“You’ll get divine retribution if you lay your claws on the soft skin of a goddess. I occasionally feel the aura of a human coming from you. What’s up with that? You always smell nice even though you are a cat. Are you aiming to become the god of soap or something? Oh, no, you can’t become the god of baths. I’m already the goddess of water, so our domains would overlap.”
Almost like it was protesting against my words, Chomusuke bit my hagoromo.
That’s a divine relic, so I would really like it if you could stop drooling all over it.
Just then, Chomusuke turned its gaze towards an empty spot of space.
“Ara, did you come to see me off too?”
Standing right there is the bounded spirit that lives in the mansion, Anna.
She’s normally a spirited girl who loves playing pranks on me, but something seems different about her today.
“You have an unusually serious look on your face today. What, are you ready to move on now?”
She said she’ll move on to heaven herself when she has grown bored of listening to our stories of adventures, so I’ve left her alone until now…
“You still haven’t grown tired of those stories yet? … I see. Well, it’s best for spirits to naturally go to heaven after settling their regrets here, so that’s fine. But make sure you keep out of sight of Eris, okay? She’s really hard headed, so she won’t hesitate to send you on immediately.”
Anna nodded in response to my advice.
“… Say, didn’t I tell you to stop saying that? That’s a death flag, you know?”
She asked me to tell her one last story, so that even if I don’t make it back, she’ll be able to move on without any regrets.
As I sat down on the lawn, Chomusuke, even though it normally never did something like this, happily leapt onto my lap.
“Say, you two are really making it really hard for me right now. Actually, I might miss the midnight carriage if things go on like this…”
I’m not sure if Chomusuke heard me, all it did was let out a lazy yawn.
Just what is up with these two today? Don’t they know that they are getting in the way of exterminating the Demon King?
“Oh, very well. Let me tell you a particularly nostalgic story of mine… That was back when I was hard at work receiving the dead souls up in heaven. On that day, a hiki-NEET who died in a really rare way got sent to me wearing a tracksuit…”
— It was the honest request of the young lady ghost that I’ve known for quite some time now, so I decided to go along with it.