An End to this Journey!
Editing: Ulti, Striker
Coloured illustrations: Kasen
After parting ways with Serena, we are currently racing down the narrow streets on the carriage commanded by Zesta.
For now, things are going smoothly.
Thanks to a certain troublemaker not being present, things are proceeding smoothly, but…
“Say, old man, I’m really thankful for you taking the helm, but your breathing is a little too rough, you know?”
A particular person has been breathing heavily while sitting next to me for a while now.
“Don’t mind it, this is just a natural reaction.”
“Of course I would mind! You really go with anything, don’t you!? … Hey, wait, what’s that over there?”
Just what should I do with this man?
Just as that thought ran through my mind, I noticed a large shadow on the road in front of us.
I used my Farsight skill to focus on the figure in the distance…
“… Geh, it’s a manticore. Hey, old man, let’s make a detour. There was a fork in the road not too far back, wasn’t there? Let’s use that path instead.”
The beast that stood off in the distance is the same monster that gave me significant trauma in the past.
It’s a strong enemy with a wicked stinger on the end of its tail.
That creature that could be said to be my natural enemy is looking right at us.
Is it too late to run…?
“No, let us continue as is.”
As I racked my brains for an alternate path, Zesta casually declared.
“Are you insane? That guy is seriously strong, you know? I don’t know how strong you are, but–”
Before I could finish, Zesta whipped the reins and picked up speed straight towards the Manticore, cutting me off.
“Allow me to show you the strength of the Axis Cult. A single Manticore won’t even be a speed bump.”
Zesta seems confident, but…
“Eeh!? No, wait, I mean, do you know what the most dangerous part of a Manticore is? Those things will relentlessly go after your backyard with that stinger of theirs. I almost ascended the stairs of adulthood when I ran into one in the past.”
For some reason, Zesta’s eyes lit up like a child in a candy store after listening to my warning.
“I’m looking forward to that!”
“What did you just say!? We don’t need another pervert in our party, Darkness alone is enough!”
“W-Wait, Kazuma, I might be headstrong, but I still feel hurt if you say something like that.”
Perhaps Darkness has long realized that she’s our party’s resident pervert, she looked towards Zesta with a conflicted expression.
“It’ll be fine, Kazuma. Leaving his failings as a proper human aside, his skill as an Archpriest is unmatched. I guarantee it.”
“… Really? Well, if you would go that far, I’ll trust you, but…”
A few seconds later, we closed the distance to the point where I could see the manticore without using my Farsight skill.
The moment Zesta and the manticore met gazes–
The manticore took one look at Zesta gluping with a hungry look in his eyes and flew off.
“Aaah! It ran away!”
“What is going on!? Why is the manticore running away!?”
Zesta looked forlornly at the retreating manticore as he said.
“To the Axis Cult, as long as it isn’t a devil or undead, all creatures can be loved. As the patriarch of the Axis Cult, I too am the apostle of love. Even if it is a monster, I shall donate my love equally to all parties… But recently, for some reason, they’ve been fleeing the moment they meet my eyes…”
“Just how hated are the Axis Cult!? Actually, old man, you really are fine with anything, aren’t you!?”
I recall hearing that even the Demon King and his cohorts steer clear of the Axis Cult.
Just then, I heard a different conversation taking place behind me.
“Darkness, look! The migratory crabs over there are performing their mating ritual. Tightly grasping their partners with their pincers is an expression of love for them.”
“I-Is that so? Why did you bring that up out of the blue…”
Turning back, I noticed Megumin staring out of the carriage window into the distance.
“Hey, don’t think you can distract me! Didn’t you guarantee that I can count on this man’s abilities!? We’re heading back to Alcanretia and trading him for someone else!”
“I said we can count on his abilities as an Archpriest! I said nothing about him as a person! If we could’ve gotten someone else, I would’ve already done it!”
“Hey, you two, if you keep saying such things, I won’t keep silent. Sealing your mouths with my own isn’t a particularly tough thing to do for me.”
After hearing Zesta’s threats, we immediately fell silent.
With a sideways glance, Zesta’s shoulders drooped and he started muttering.
“As a member of the Axis cult, I have a dream… when this world is finally at peace… I would like to see a world where the boundaries of gender and species are torn down too… ”
“That sounds like a noble idea, but I can’t get behind it when you are the one saying it!”
The Axis Cult is just filled with such people!
When I catch up with the girl who created the entire cult in the first place, I’ll definitely lodge my complaints–!
It has been some time since I left Alcanretia, but…
“As expected of Aqua-sama, that was a really brilliant support spell. Thank you very much.”
The person who received my buff, the Magic Sword Man, took down the manticore with a single swipe of his sword.
I did give him a buff, but I think most of the work was done by his magic sword.
I think it’s quite impressive to be able to take down such a powerful monster so easily.
If it was Kazuma here, he would most likely have run around screaming, trying all kinds of little tricks while crying for my help.
“You’re welcome. Is anyone injured?”
I asked just to be sure, but of course, nobody was injured.
All these fights always last for barely a second, so there wasn’t a chance for anyone to get injured in the first place.
“Everything is fine, Aqua-sama. Thanks to your protection, no one was injured this time either. Thank you for your concern.”
The Magic Sword Man let out a carefree laugh.
He sure is handsome.
He’s completely different from a certain someone who frequently sleeps until noon, walks around with bed hair, and whose twisted personality easily shines through his eyes.
“Good work, Kyouya. Things are really easy with an Archpriest and an Archmage around!”
“Yeah, yeah, we didn’t get the chance to do anything at all.”
The spear wielder girl and the thief girl showered praises on the magic sword man.
When the magic sword man responded to the praise by patting them on the head, the two girls blushed.
Kazuma once did a similar thing with Darkness where he patted her on the head with a smile.
But Darkness got angry and scolded him for messing up her hair style.
Afterwards Kazuma fell into a depression, complaining about how things didn’t happen like he expected.
I really want to tell him about the head patting savant standing before me.
Being able to make women blush just by patting them on the head is a special skill that only handsome men can use.
“With this party, we have nothing to fear, even if we are facing the Demon King. Aqua-sama, let’s continue on! We shall bring peace back to this world!”
The magic sword man said to me with a smile, and I got swept up in the flow and responded without really thinking about it.
Just then, Yunyun, who had been muttering towards the air all this while, said.
“Listen to this, Aqua-san! Wiz-san just contacted me from Axel, and she said Kazuma-san has left to catch up with us!”
I’m a little relieved that Yunyun wasn’t talking to her imaginary friends after all.
Still, Kazuma is the same as always.
I left a letter to make sure that he doesn’t worry about me, but he still came after me.
I understand that he wants to rely on his Onee-chan, but it is about time that he whips himself into shape.
“Aqua-san, you seem happy.”
“Not particularly. So, is Kazuma coming after us alone?”
“No, Darkness-san and Megumin are together with him. Umm, when I left town, the other adventurers were worried about you, you know? They said that if they manage to run into you, they’ll definitely lecture you until you’re in tears. Megumin was especially agitated.”
“… Is that so?”
I’m a little interested in Megumin getting worked up over me.
She cares the most for her companions amongst our party, so she’s probably angry over me leaving, but I can’t be sure.
I told her once when she was taking a bath after me that the water I left behind had the blessings of the goddess and would give anyone a goddess-like figure like me, and she stayed in the bath until she fainted.
Perhaps she still holds a grudge over that incident.
Would she forgive me if I give her the strangely-shaped pebble I picked up on this journey, I wonder?
We are starting to run into stronger and stronger monsters, the only times I could take a proper bath is at the scant few villages along the way, and we constantly get attacked by undead at night.
To be honest, I do kind of want to go home.
Actually I’m really regretting my decision to run away from home.
I didn’t want to let Cecily down, so I persevered all the way here, but maybe it’s time I head back.
“Um, well, I’m a little worried that Kazuma might end up getting eaten by a stray frog or something on the way. He already likes to die at the drop of a hat like he’s playing Spelunker, and now that he’s been reduced to level one, I really doubt that he’ll be able to lead the other two and safely catch up with us.”
So, we should make a temporary retreat…
“He will be fine! Kazuma-san went with Wiz-san and Vanir-san to the dungeons to level up! He’s learned various skills and awoken to his true power, or something! … By the way, what’s spelunker?”
“Hey, what do you mean by that? I haven’t heard a single thing about it! What do you mean he awakened!? What kinds of skills did he learn!? I have a really bad feeling that my role has been stolen! Such a cool event like awakening doesn’t suit Kazuma at all! He’s the kind of person who loses his life against trash mobs and only manages to win against strong foes through underhanded tactics! Why did such an interesting event happen when I was away!?”
I grabbed Yunyun by the shoulders and shook her.
“I-I-I can’t do anything e-e-even if you ask me! Aqua-san, please don’t shake me! I left town before Kazuma-san left to train, so I don’t know the details! There are a lot of limitations to long range magical communications, so…! I only heard that most of the adventurers in Axel agreed to coach Kazuma and teach him all kinds of skills… So, anyway, what’s a spelunker?”
I let go of Yunyun’s shoulders and fell into deep thought.
That weakling Kazuma awakened?
Yunyun’s eyes sparkled when she said that word. I don’t usually get the impression, but seeing her now really drives home that she’s a Crimson Demon just like Megumin.
Though, Yunyun seems to be really interested in the term spelunker and muttered that word to herself with a forlorn expression…
… And how could the residents of the town get up to such a fun event while I was busy with this serious journey?
What should I do? I feel really left out right now.
After mulling over that for a while…
I decided to give up on taking down the Demon King.
“Shall we go home?”
“What are you saying, Aqua-sama!? Didn’t you say that this is the perfect chance!? That with their forces our attacking the capital and the town of Axel, the defences at the castle will be thin!? Please trust me, I’ll definitely defeat the Demon King! Or are you really that worried about that man!?”
The magic sword man suddenly drew closer.
It’s a little scary to have someone draw close to you out of the blue like that.
Yunyun smoothly stepped between me and the magic sword man.
“Calm down, Mitsurugi-san. Wouldn’t it be fine if we wait for Kazuma-san and the others to catch up before heading towards the Demon King’s castle? We will have greater strength when it comes time to attack the castle, and it’d put Aqua-san at ease too.”
As expected of the Crimson Demons, they are smart.
I peeked out from behind Yunyun and nodded my head in support for that idea, and the magic sword man made a disappointed look.
He turned around and said.
“… Let’s carry on, Aqua-sama. I understand that you are worried for that man, but the fate of the world is at stake here. Please remember why you set out on this journey. Weren’t you going to take this opportunity where the Demon King is at his most vulnerable to defeat him and everyone in this world who cannot defend themselves? … Don’t worry, I’ll be by your side the entire way… ”
That sounded like a line a manga protagonist might say.
I feel like there is a large difference in motivation between this man and me.
When did I ever say I wanted to save everyone in this world who cannot defend themselves?
I think I might have said something along those lines to Cecily, but I don’t think I set out from home because of such a grandiose reason…
After hearing that, the two girls that always followed him around looked at me with a conflicted expression.
The magic sword man is probably the dense main character type that was all the rage a few years ago.
He’s probably cut from the natural oblivious harem protagonist archetype.
Come to think of it, he told Yunyun that she could call him Kyouya on the journey over here, like he was trying to rope her into his harem too.
But whenever he said anything, Yunyun would get all nervous and fidgety, and continued addressing him as Mitsurugi-san.
Seems like she won’t be roped in so easily.
The magic sword man continued.
“No matter what happens, I’ll protect you. I will become your reliable shield. I shall become your strongest sword that will wipe away all that stands in your way. So, could you rely on me instead of that man…?”
What a protagonist-like line.
He seems to be getting his spirits up, so I don’t feel like saying too much.
However, there is one thing I have to correct him about.
— The most reliable shield is Darkness.
— A few days after that.
“Aqua-san, is something wrong? Ever since we left Alcanretia, you’ve been listless…”
As I was drifting off in the back of the carriage, Yunyun called out to me.
By the way, this carriage is apparently owned by the magic sword man.
As expected of a cheat hero, he’s rich.
“It’s nothing. It’s just, things are going smoothly, aren’t they? Back when I was traveling with Kazuma and the others, it was more, how do I put it, chaotic? We ran into crisis after crisis each day. Of course, I’m not saying that it’s a good thing, but, well…”
… It’s boring.
Yes, this journey is boring.
Seeing Darkness cheerfully charge into a horde monsters, Kazuma tearfully crying for help, Megumin letting loose with her explosion, and me elegantly healing everyone’s injuries, before the situation finally calms down again… this is how things usually went.
Of course, it’s best to have a smooth journey.
Even if we happen to run into a few monsters, most of them would be instantly cut down by the magic sword man, and the few that remain alive would be taken down by Yunyun.
The other two companions of that man seemed quite bored too as they hadn’t had any chances to show off their skills.
I couldn’t possibly say that the journey was boring, so I kept quiet.
Just then, Yunyun asked me.
“Ah, come to think of it, what did you do in Alcanretia? You followed Cecily-san’s suggestions and went to the cathedral, right?”
“Ah, that? Well, you see–!”
— After that, things continued smoothly.
We made stops at the various villages that were set up as supply bases for the front lines along the way as we continued towards the Demon King’s castle.
Right now, we are taking a break at a tavern in a fortified village not too far from the Demon King’s castle…
“Hey, what’s keeping them? It’s already been quite some time since I set off, so why hasn’t Kazuma caught up with us yet?”
“T-That’s, um, well… We must be going too fast for them to catch up. Mitsurugi-san, perhaps it would be best for us to wait here for a while…?”
“… We can’t do that. Even while we are resting here, the Demon King’s army is making progress with their invasion plans. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising for Axel to be attacked any time now. If that happens, the citizens of the town will surely suffer. In order to avoid any further casualties, we should defeat the Demon King as soon as we can… Plus, that man is a good-for-nothing who abandoned Aqua-sama before. And a man like that wants to take on the Demon King…!”
The magic sword man clenched his fists.
It’s kind of hard for me to respond if you’re this passionate.
This guy really seems like the hero of some fantasy story.
Though I wonder why he hates Kazuma so much.
Sure, Kazuma is a lazybones with a twisted personality whose ill reputation is known throughout the town, who doesn’t hold back even against women and will demand a rematch when he loses, is a pervert but utterly clumsy when it counts, is totally weak but thinks nothing about putting on airs, folds immediately and becomes utterly docile in the face of authority, yet thinks nothing of abusing his own authority when he has the upper hand…
“… This is bad, Yunyun! I want to put in a good word for Kazuma, but thinking about it, I can’t come up with any good points about him at all!”
“A-Aqua-san, you can’t say such things out loud! Kazuma-san would be really heartbroken if he heard that!”
Hearing that, the magic sword man stood up with a wry smile.
“Aqua-sama, please rest here for a while. I’ll ask the villagers for details regarding the next leg of our journey.”
Saying that, he left the tavern.
The two girls that were sitting at the same table also left with him.
“… He does have a lot of negative traits, but I think he has some positive traits too. No matter what kind of complex issue you bring to him, he will always find a way to resolve it. At the end of the day, Kazuma is the most reliable person I know.”
“W-Why didn’t you say that earlier?”
Yunyun sighed next to me.
… I’m so bored.
The journey was extremely smooth, and we didn’t run into any trouble or notable incidents.
We did run into a few issues at the various villages we encountered along the way, but they were all minor and forgettable.
Yes, even if put my full cup on my head to perform a few party tricks…
“A-Aqua-san, everyone’s staring! A grown woman like you shouldn’t do stupid stuff in public!”
… The only one who would respond is Yunyun.
Back when I did a similar thing in front of the magic sword man, he just smiled at me without saying anything.
If it was a certain short tempered person, he would definitely had aggressively scolded me the moment I did anything strange.
Now that I’ve attracted the attention of everyone in the tavern, I flicked a seed from my thumb to the cup balancing on my head–
— Yunyun ran to catch up to me after I left the tavern.
“A-Aqua-san, what should we do with all these tips…!? Actually, is it really fine to leave just like that after putting everyone in such a lively mood…?”
“It’s fine. And I don’t need tips. I’m not a busker, so I can’t accept that. Is there a branch of the Axis Cult here? Just donate all those tips to them…. ”
When I looked around, I noticed a small crowd had gathered around the side of the reservoir.
“I wonder what’s going on? The atmosphere seems quite heavy.”
“Let’s go check it out. If they are having problems with the water, that’d be the perfect chance for me to step in.”
As I tried to draw closer, Yunyun hastily grabbed my arm.
“P-Please wait. Um, I’ll go ask them for the details first! I mean, you always end up getting involved in strange problems, so I’m sure this time too…!”
Yunyun really is a worrywart.
However, seeing her frantically trying to persuade me reminds me of Kazuma telling me to please stop doing unnecessary things.
Seeing her like that just made me want to give it my all.
“Just who do you think I am? It’ll be fine, Yunyun. If it’s a problem with water, you can count on the Axis Cult! And if an Archpriest of the Axis Cult like me were to handle it, the problem is as good as resolved!”
“Aqua-san, I have a really bad feeling about this! Ah, please wait!”
I confidently strode over to the crowd and called out to them.
“Are you having some problems with the water? I’m just a travelling Archpriest of the Axis Cult that happened to pass by. If you mention water, you think about the Axis Cult!”
“H-Hey, is it that Axis Cult? It’s best not to get involved…”
The surrounding people looked reverently at me.
Though, for some reason, I detect a few frightful gazes directed at me too. I wonder why is that?
Eventually, after some time spent elbowing each other, one of the men stepped out from the crowd.
“Er, you see, it appears that our reservoir has been polluted. A brood of young brutal alligators have started making their nest nearby because of that. Those creatures will release a powerful toxin into their surroundings when wounded, so it’s hard for us to deal with them. These creatures dislike clean water, so if the reservoir is purified, they should migrate elsewhere on their own, but… ”
“Ah, I see. That’s a big problem. Now then, if you’ll excuse me…”
“Aqua-san, where are you going!? What happened to all that spirit from before!?”
Yunyun hastily grabbed my arm as I tried to leave.
“Let go of me, Yunyun! I have really bad memories concerning those alligators! It’s just like you said earlier, I have a really bad feeling about this…!”
“I-I get it, I get it! You’ll trip if you run like that so–Ah!”
Yunyun suddenly let go, and I lost my balance and fell into the reservoir.
“Sorry, Aqua-san! I’ll pull you out right now… Ah! The alligators are approaching! Please hold on for a while! I’ll take out the alligators first!”
“W-Wait a minute! We’d be really thankful to have them taken care off, but if you take them out here our precious water source will be contaminated!”
“T-That’s right! Let’s put our heads together and think of another way! Someone bring an oar or something! We need to pull that lady out!”
As the crowd hastily stopped Yunyun from casting her spells, the alligators made a beeline for me.
“Stop discussing and decide if you are going to take them out or pull me out! Actually, why are they gathering around me!?”
This reservoir is deeper than I expected, coming up to my waist.
Now that I take a closer look, a pool of purified water has already surrounded me, and seems to be steadily spreading.
These creatures seems to hate clean water.
In other words, I, who can purify water, is regarded as an enemy by them.
“Waaaaah! I’m sorry for running away, so please save me, Kazuma-san!”
— This journey is going really smoothly.
It’s so smooth that I can’t help but wonder if all those hardships I went through in our previous journeys were some kind of bad dream.
Having Zesta along as our personal anti-monster scarecrow is part of it, but the bigger reason is most likely because our resident troublemaker isn’t here.
Apart from Zesta wanting to take a bath with me, wanting to sleep in the same room with me, or talking about perverse things along the way, we didn’t run into any major problems.
We ran into harpies, werewolves, centaurs, lamias, and other powerful creatures, but whenever we run into a monster, Zesta would chase after them with a rabid look in his eyes, and any monster would immediately flee upon meeting his gaze.
Just when I was starting to think that the Axis Cult is the true threat to this world that deserves to be destroyed, we arrived at a certain small village.
This village was heavily fortified, probably for use as one of the strongpoints in the war against the Demon King.
Every one of the villagers went about their business armed and armoured, and had a certain edge to them that is typical of a frontline village…
“… This village feels odd. It’s like, I don’t feel the tension of being at a frontline village at all.”
No, actually, the edge that is usually found amongst the residents of a frontline village is nowhere to be seen here.
“I wonder what happened? Shouldn’t everyone be more on guard? It wouldn’t be surprising for a small village like this to be wiped off the map at any time.”
Just then, I heard a cheerful conversation that almost seemed in response to my question.
“That priest really seemed like a goddess, didn’t she!?”
“Yeah! To think that she would risk her own body to purify our one and only reservoir! You don’t run into such heroic folks these days!”
“Pardon me, could you please tell me more about that?”
Trying my best to keep myself calm, I called out to those two.
The two of them first gave me a suspicious look, but eased up considerably upon seeing the adventurer’s gear I had on me.
“Well, you see, our reservoir got polluted, and brutal alligators started moving in. Just then, a beautiful priest happened to pass by and risked her own body to purify the water and chase away the alligators.”
A beautiful priest risked her own body…?
“Hmm, must have been someone else.”
“Yeah, I don’t recall knowing such an exemplary priest.”
“Indeed. It must have been someone else.”
“I-If you continue to disrespect my goddess, I’ll deliver divine punishment upon you in her stead!”
We immediately dismissed the possibility of that person being Aqua without a second thought, and Zesta, sweating heavily, rebuked us.
It’s rare to see Zesta so flustered like this.
Just then, one of the men said.
“She was a priest of the Axis Cult with long, blue hair. She fell into the water, screamed a panicked chant of some sort, and before I knew it, the reservoir was filled with clean water.”
“That’s definitely Aqua.”
“Indeed, that’s most definitely Aqua.”
“You three… No, I think I’ll hold my tongue here…”
Zesta gave us a conflicted look, while I asked for the current whereabouts of the idiot who fell into the reservoir.
“Aah, that priest? We tried to warn her that it was dangerous, but she left with a few companions in the direction of the Demon King’s castle. That was a few hours ago.”
“A few hours ago!?” x3
We caught up!
We are just a few hours behind! Just a little more!
After hearing this joyous news, I couldn’t keep my elation hidden!
“… W-What? Why are the two of you grinning like that?”
“No, I just thought you seemed especially happy. Recently, your complaints and retorts have lost their edge, so I thought that you might finally go back to usual with this.”
“Fufu, stop it Megumin. This man can’t be honest, after all. If you keep talking, he might start coming up with excuses again.”
I briefly considered stealing their panties and giving them to Zesta as thanks for him escorting us all the way here, but now isn’t the time for that.
“Right, I’m using Drain Touch on you the moment we get back to Axel. You won’t be able to cast Explosion for three days. As for you, Darkness, one of these days, I’m going to swap out the oil you use for polishing your armour with cooking oil. Now, let’s hurry on!”
“K-K-K-Kazuma!? You’re joking, right? T-That’s way to much! You don’t need to regain your brutishness too!”
“Y-Yeah, that’s not funny! … Kazuma, you’re joking, right? P-Please tell me you’re joking. I’ve already given a name to this armour. Y-you wouldn’t actually do that, right?”
Zesta whipped the reins, driving the horses along the road at speeds that made them seem completely out of control.
The Demon King’s castle is only half a day’s journey away from that village.
I was a little surprised that a village could exist this close to the castle without being destroyed, but it seems like there were several reasons for that.
There are quite a few creatures amongst the forces of the Demon King that feed on the spirits and emotions of humans instead of regular food.
That village is kept around to be used as a feeding ground for those monsters.
The villagers weren’t drained to the point of death, so they seemed to silently go along with this arrangement.
The purpose of that village appears to be to form diplomatic relations with the forces of the Demon King.
I’ve even heard that there are some elements within the Demon King’s army that desire open communications too, as surprising as it might be.
Even back on Earth, even countries at war with each other will take pains to set up diplomatic channels so that they’ll be able to communicate with each other should the situation arise.
From the outside, it seems like the Demon King’s forces and humanity are at each other’s throats, but there exists such a line of communication between them…
Could it be that the Demon King’s army isn’t completely made up of genocidal thugs?
— I have no idea how long we have been riding for.
As I was still struggling to come to terms with this new fact about the Demon King’s army, the carriage started to slow down.
“… What happened?”
“I’m at a loss. The horses appear to be frightened. It seems like we are quite close to the Demon King’s castle.”
I looked towards the horses. Both of them were shaky, seemingly fearing something ahead of us and refusing to take a step forward.
This isn’t good. Aqua and her team should’ve been riding a carriage too, so there’s no way we’d be able to catch up on foot…
Just then, Megumin tugged on my sleeve and wordlessly pointed towards the distance.
“… Is that their carriage?”
In that direction lies an empty, horseless carriage, though there’s no way to tell if it was Mitsurigi’s or someone else’s.
If that is truly Mitsurugi’s carriage, they must be planning on using Yunyun’s Teleport for the return trip and set the horses loose.
“They must be close by. Alright, let’s pursue them on foot. It’s Aqua we are talking about, so she’ll most likely get cold feet and start dallying about the moment she lays eyes on the Demon King’s castle… Old man, thank you for leading us here. You’ve been a great help. We’ll take it from here, so you can go back before us.”
“Hmm? I think it would be safer if I were to stick with you. Besides, how could I miss out on heading straight into the Demon King’s headquarters? That sounds way too fun.”
Well, it would be of great help to have him along, but…
“If worst comes to worst, we can escape using Teleport. But Teleport can only transport four people at once. Even if we were to meet up with Yunyun, they have a party of five people there. With the three of us here, we make up a party of eight people. Between Yunyun and me, we can make a quick escape… Though, if you don’t mind us leaving you behind in a moment of crisis…”
“I’ll be eagerly awaiting your good news at Alcanretia! Now then, I shall take my leave!”
We regarded Zesta’s instant change in attitude with a wry smile as we got off the carriage.
After retrieving our luggage and checking that everyone’s present, I and Zesta shook hands.
“Seeya, old man. Don’t go too overboard with the sexual harassment now.”
“That would get rid of eighty percent of my meaning for existence… Ah, please wait for a moment.”
Zesta extended his hand at us.
“Power! Protection! … And lastly, Blessing!”
A soft light extended from Zesta’s hand and descended over us.
Spells that boosted our strength and resilience.
The last blessing is probably just an added bonus.
“I will be praying for your success. May the blessings of Aqua-sama be with you…!”
Seeming like a proper priest for the first time since we met him, Zesta let out a jovial laugh as he drove off.
Still, it’s a weird feeling to be talking about the blessings of Aqua when we are off to meet up with her in person.
He’s a weird guy, but I don’t think I can really bring myself to hate him.
I gave a farewell wave towards the retreating Zesta–
“… Ah!? When I checked my bag, one of my underwear is missing!?”
“Eh!? … Ah, one of mine is gone too!”
…It might really be best to wipe the Axis Cult off the face of this planet.
— My body feels quite a bit lighter than usual. It must be an effect of the buffs.
With our luggage in tow, were speeding down the road in order to catch up to Aqua when we came across several monsters.
However, they had already been taken care of.
The corpses of monsters were completely strewn around the hill that we are currently climbing.
They must have been taken care of by Mitsurugi and his magic sword.
Some of them were missing their heads, while others had their bodies neatly bisected. It’s all very gruesome…
“Hey, Kazuma, the bodies are still warm. Aqua and the others couldn’t have gone far…!”
Darkness whispered, her hand placed on the body of one of the monsters.
After hearing that, Megumin, seemingly unable to restrain herself anymore, picked up the pace, and Darkness followed after her in a slow jog–
“Please wait~! The rucksack… The rucksack is really heavy! Please don’t leave me behind!”
“We are about to have an emotional reunion with our companion, so stop spoiling the mood! Just throw that stuff out by the roadside!”
“Grah, just hand it over! I’ll carry it for you! Seriously, here I thought you were somewhat cool earlier, but … Ah? What did you put in this, weights to help in muscle training!? You knew that we’d be traveling, so you should’ve packed lightly!? Just what did you bring with you!?”
Despite her complaints, Darkness shouldered my rucksack and carried it with her.
It’s pathetic, but this is just the difference in our stats.
And, when we crested the hill…
“… T-That’s a foreboding sight…”
Those words slipped out of my mouth.
Darkness softly agreed.
Within sight of the hill is an enormous castle, constructed entirely out of jet black rocks. No matter who you ask, that definitely seems like the residence of some final boss–
Megumin let out in a soft voice as she cradled her staff with both hands.
I really don’t get the Crimson Demon sense of aesthetics–
Just then, my train of thought was suddenly derailed.
There she is.
Right next to the castle was a tuff of familiar blue hair.
“I-I found her!”
Megumin and Darkness jumped up in shock before hastily looking in the same direction.
However, without the ability to use Farsight, it seems that Aqua isn’t visible to either of them just yet.
Aqua was wandering around close to the castle, with Mitsurugi and the others standing a short distance away. She had her hands outstretched before her, like she was searching for something.
“Aqua! Hey! Heeeey! Hey, Aqua!… Ah, dammit!”
Cursing, I brought out my bow and nocked an arrow, preparing to use my Snipe skill…
“Wait wait wait! Kazuma, what are you trying to do!?”
“I know you want to shoot an arrow close by, but what if end up shooting her in the head by accident!? I know your luck is quite good, but you should know how unlucky Aqua is!”
Dammit, now that she mentions it, I’m starting to feel like it’ll end up that way too.
Just as we were hesitating, a bright light came from Aqua’s outstretched hands.
“Ah! Those guys went inside!”
With my Farsight, I saw Aqua open a small hole in the barrier and slip through.
Mitsurugi and the others followed after her.
Just after the last of them made it in, the small hole Aqua tore in the barrier closed up.
This isn’t good. I don’t know if we can catch up to them before they vanish into the castle, and even if we did, I have no idea if sound can pass through the barrier.
Why the hell aren’t there any guards around the castle!? If there was even one, we’d be able to catch up while Mitsurugi and the others were engaged in combat!
Is the Demon King and his forces really that confident in the power of their barrier!?
Darkness fell to her knees beside me.
“… We came all this way but couldn’t make it in time…”
Megumin, clutching her staff tightly, seemed like she was about to cry.
“W-W-What should we do!? If I’d known it’d end up like this, I should’ve just let Kazuma loose that arrow and take our chances!”
Just then, Aqua and the party vanished from my sight.
Yunyun must have used that light bending spell on them.
There’s almost no way for us to meet up with them now.
Darkness looked at me with a frantic expression.
“Y-You have a plan for this, right, Kazuma? You always come up with some underhanded trick in such situations…”
Hey, whose tricks are you calling underhanded?
Megumin too looked uneasily at me, wordlessly asking if I know of another way…
… Well, to be honest, I’m not completely out of moves yet.
But I need courage in order to use this.
The courage to throw away the stable life I’ve managed to build up for myself so far.
— Seeing me with such a troubled look on my face.
Megumin suddenly let out a self-deprecating laugh.
Looking closer, she’s trembling, struggling and failing to contain the tears that flowed from her eyes.
“H-Hey, what’s wrong? Don’t give up hope yet. They just entered the Demon King’s castle, it doesn’t mean that Aqua is already dead. It’s too early for tears.”
Megumin clenched her jaw.
“… No, if I properly learnt Advanced Magic… If I was a proper Crimson Demon instead of this joke of a mage… we would’ve caught up to Aqua a long time ago… When I think about that, I…”
“… W-Why? Do you know of some kind of spell that can break through that barrier?”
Megumin resignedly shook her head.
“One might be able to break through the barrier with the Light of Saber spell that Crimson Demons like to use. If the magic power of the user is high enough, that spell would be able to cut through anything… If I had memorized that spell… If I had bothered to learn any other spell… Breaking through a barrier like this is the job of the spellcaster. But I’ve always been stubborn and never once did anything that is expected of one.”
Darkness suddenly, wordlessly, wrapped Megumin in a hug.
“If Yunyun were here instead, she’d be able to cut through the barrier with Light of Saber. Failing that, she could communicate magically with Aqua. If another Crimson Demon was here, she could’ve fired off some spell that wouldn’t attract the attention of the monsters in the castle and caught Aqua’s attention…”
Darkness gently placed her hand on Megumin’s head, who is still reprimanding herself.
“If you’re going to say that, if I didn’t stubbornly refuse to learn any weapon skills, we would’ve had a much easier time going on adventures. It’d be the same for our past undertakings, but this journey too would’ve been much smoother and we’d have caught up with Aqua faster. You’re not the only one to have been willful, Megumin. I too…”
Darkness too shyly confessed.
As I watched those two–
Partially, it’s me getting baffled by such a scene that seems to have been ripped straight out of some drama taking place in front of me, and it’s partially me having no idea how to respond.
Now isn’t the time to break down in tears just yet, and it’s also not the time to spill all the regrets you had.
Even if I do nothing here, it’s quite possible that Mitsurugi would defeat the Demon King with his party.
Alternatively, it’s also possible that they’ll run into some trash mob and come running back out with their tails behind their legs.
Megumin called herself a joke of a mage earlier.
I recall her being listed as a substitute in the letter than she received from the Crimson Demon village not too long ago.
Normally Megumin would’ve snorted and tossed it aside, but it seems like stress of Aqua’s disappearance has gotten to her.
Megumin might seem strong, but I guess she’s still a kid on the inside.
… No, wait, in that case, what does that make me who has designs on her…
She talks about nothing but Explosion every day, so what is she doing regretting it now?
Darkness too, what’s that about “If only I picked up some weapon skills”?
–Regretfully, everything is just as you said!
If you had been a Crusader who could actually land her attacks, we would’ve had a much easier time adventuring.
And worst of all is that idiot.
Not only is she not satisfied with causing all kinds of problems every day, when we came all the way out here to fetch her, she has the gall to disappear right under our noses.
Each and every one of them is really–!
“… Hey, Megumin, that barrier surrounding the castle. Do you think you can break it with Explosion?”
“… That’s impossible. Explosion is a spell that converts magic power into pure explosive force. I might be able to create a few cracks in the barrier, but I don’t have enough firepower to bring it down…”
Megumin said with some vexation.
“In other words, you can’t take it down with a single blow. But what if you could hit it multiple times? Can you break through it then?”
“T-That’s impossible. That kind of barrier will repair itself over time. Even if I start regaining my mana the moment I cast Explosion, it would’ve fully repaired itself by the time I can cast it again. In the first place, the moment I unleash my spell, the forces of the Demon King would’ve come rushing over…”
“So you can break it if you hit it repeatedly in a short time, right?”
I continued questioning Megumin.
She seemed a little taken aback by my pressure and hesitantly nodded.
“Y-Yes. But a barrier on that scale wouldn’t go down with just a couple of hits. Even Aqua could only make a small hole in the barrier. It would take at least several dozen hits… ”
“Several dozen shots, huh? So if you could cast Explosion that many times, that annoying barrier can be broken, right?”
In response to my continued questioning.
“Yes. To take down a barrier of that scale, I would say… thirty… no, around twenty shots would do.”
Megumin, confident in her explosion if nothing else, nodded with surety.
— That will be enough.
“Hey, wait, what are you planning, Kazuma? Are you planning on using our trump card, Explosion? Sure, Aqua and the others might peek out in shock if we hit the barrier with Explosion, but that will definitely draw the attention of the Demon King’s forces too. And, to use our trump card in such a way…”
Darkness uneasily said.
“Darkness, give me my bag.”
Saying that, I extended my hand in order to receive my rucksack.
Darkness raised an eyebrow, but handed the bag over to me.
“Come to think of it, I gave that armour to Darkness, but I haven’t given anything to you yet, right, Megumin?”
I said with a smile as I opened the mouth of my rucksack.
“Eh? T-That’s fine. I’m not some kind of high maintenance woman who’d keep it on my chest if I don’t receive an expensive gift every now and then.”
Hearing Megumin’s jovial words, Darkness let out a strange noise.
“Hey, Megumin, that makes it sound like I am that kind of high maintenance woman…!”
“I never said that you who treats that gift like some great treasure and polishes it with a grin whenever we get any amount of free time is a troublesome woman. If anything, I think it’s kind of cute.”
Megumin said with a grin towards a Darkness who is already blushing.
“Come now, don’t say that. I already got an expensive present for you, so just accept it.”
“… I-Is that so? Y-You didn’t need to go out of your way…”
“You’re grinning from ear to ear, you know? Sounds like you are a pretty high maintenance woman… Ah! My hair! Do you really like pulling on other’s hair that much!?”
Just as Darkness and Megumin started wrestling with each other, I spilled the contents of my rucksack.
“… … …” x2
Seeing the contents of rucksack, the two of them stood stock still.
“It’s a little late, but this is my present to you.”
In response to my casually spoken words, Megumin broke out into sweat, and Darkness’s mouth opened and closed like a goldfish.
“Y-Y-Y-Y-You…! Do you understand the value of these things!? How did you gather so many of them of such pure quality…!”
As a noble lady, Darkness should’ve been used to dealing with large sums of money, she asked me in a hoarse tone, sounding slightly out of breath.
“Of course I know their value. They’re worth half of my entire fortune. You remember that time when Vanir chanced into a large amount of money, right? Back when I sold him all of my intellectual property rights in order to raise the funds to clear your debt. Wiz ended up using the money Vanir earned from that to buy a large number of top grade Manatite. As thanks for him helping me power level in the dungeon, I bought all of these off him before we left town.”
After hearing my explanation, Darkness clutched her head and staggered.
“K-K-K-K-Kazuma…! T-T-T-This is…. this…!”
Megumin pointed with a trembling finger at the items I scattered over the ground.
“Just as you’ve heard, these are all top grade Manatite. Those can be used in place of mana when casting spells, but normal quality ones can’t provide the massive costs required for Explosion. That’s what you said back when you won that piece of Manatite off Yunyun, right?”
Megumin seems to be rendered completely speechless.
“And I believe you said back then that to such a great mage like you, such a low quality item is useless. Well, here is a pile of top grade manatite perfectly suited for a top grade mage such as yourself. It’s all for you.”
With a clink, Megumin’s staff fell to the floor.
Next to her, Darkness is looking towards the sky with a hand on her forehead.
“Are you insane!? Just one of these stones can buy a small house. With this many Manatite of such high clarity here, you can buy a small castle, you know?”
Megumin is still trying to talk me out of this with a shrill voice, but,
“I don’t mind, go ahead and use all of it. Smash that barrier without hesitation.”
With that, Megumin retrieved her staff with a shaking hand.
“Are you sure? Really? Manatite are one use only, you know? Once I make use of them, they’ll vanish.”
In order to dispel her worries, I once again confidently said.
“I don’t mind, have at it. It’s my treat, so go ahead and use every single one.”
Anticipating what is going to happen next, Megumin had an exuberant look on her face
“Are you really sure? Plus, if I repeatedly hit the barrier with explosion, the Demon King’s forces will definitely come rushing towards us.”
“When they do, go ahead and blow them away with Explosion.”
“That guy who is even stronger than the Demon King himself that Serena mentioned might come out too. That person who is said to be the strongest mage in the world…”
I raised a hand and cut her off.
“No matter who your opponent is, after you’ve spent all this time training and honing it, your skill at Explosion magic will definitely be superior. I don’t care if the Demon King himself or one of his subordinates or even Aqua were to come running out of that castle, blow every single one of them away! I’ve accumulated a lot of stress on the way here as well! Now is the time for you to show all those who treat you as a joke just what you can do! We can just earn the money back later! Between the Demon King and Aqua running away from home, I’m close to my breaking point! So, in my place, help me vent all this stress!”
“W-W-Wait, Kazuma, didn’t you just bring up a name that shouldn’t be blown away just now!? Your speech sounds really cool, but isn’t it just asking someone else to settle your grudges…!?”
Blushing slightly, I shot back to Darkness.
“S-Shut up! Wealth is also part of my abilities! You go around brandishing your authority as a noble lady too!”
“Wha-!? What do you mean by that! I don’t abuse my power as a noble… W-Well… Mostly… not…”
Darkness slowly trailed off.
I once again addressed the both of them.
“Once we take that idiot back, we’re going to start working hard! Right now, I’m an elite adventurer who mastered a lot of skills, Kazuma! We’ll definitely have a much easier time of it compared to back when I was sleeping in the stables!”
Megumin raised her head, staring at me who has completely changed a new leaf.
A single tear fell from her glowing red eyes.
“Leave it to me. I’ll make good use of the present you gave me… I’ll never forget this day for as long as I live. I shall turn that impudent fool who dares name himself the strongest mage in the world without my permission into dust!”
Along with that confident proclamation, her eyes glowed in striking crimson, the signature trait of the Crimson Demons.
This is why she is in charge of firepower in our party.
“I’ll be counting on you, the strongest mage in the world.”
Just then, Megumin wrapped me into a tight hug.
On a hill overlooking the Demon King’s castle, a very familiar chant echoed.
“Aaah…. Aaaaah… Do you really know just how much just one of these manatite is worth?”
“Oh shut up you penniless noble! Just keep watching our backs, otherwise that curse on that armour of yours will make you run out the moment enemies start pouring out of the castle!”
“Penniless noble!? J-Just who are you calling a penniless noble!? I already told you, my family isn’t poor, they are just frugal and dislike levying unfair taxes! More importantly, you are really stupid with money sometimes! Just like back when you bought me and this current situation! Not even a war between nations would use this many top grade manatite!”
“Oh shut up, I know my spending habits are a little strange. But, even back when I spent all that money to clear your debts and even now I never once regretted my choice to shell out my fortune!”
“…I-Is that so. A-ah, I see…”
At those words, Darkness shyly lowered her head and became quiet.
… That’s odd, I didn’t set out to create such an atmosphere…
“… This is my once in a lifetime debut, so why are the two of you fooling around?”
Seeing Darkness shyly stealing glances at me, Megumin, buried to her waist in the pile of manatite, let out a voice of displeasure.
— There is a spell in this world known as Explosion.
Not only is it difficult to learn, but the mana required to cast it even once is beyond all but the most powerful of mages.
On top of that, the destructive power unleashed by the spell is so immense that finding a good spot to use it is a challenge in and of itself.
As such, it’s gained a reputation as a spell with a low cost effectiveness.
However, regardless if you are a god, a demon, or the Demon King himself, if you take a hit from that, you’ll definitely suffer damage.
It’s the strongest form of offence at humanity’s disposal.
“With the Manatite I received from you, I am now capable of performing a feat not even the greatest Archmage in the world can match. What you are about to witness right now is my life’s greatest work… Be sure to carve it into your memories.”
— There is an Archmage in this world known as the joke mage.
She can only cast one spell per day, was rejected from almost every party she joined, frequently poked fun at, and even her own tribe is treating her like a benchwarmer.
“My name is Megumin! The foremost Archmage in Axel, and one who walks the path of Explosions! I don’t care if you are the strongest mage in the world, a dragon, a devil, or the Demon King himself, I shall reduce you all to dust!”
This mage that had been constantly put down and made fun of time and time again, but yet still dreams of being the strongest mage in the world–
Will, on this day, truly gain the title of the strongest in the world.
Thank you for purchasing Volume 16 of “Gifting this Wonderful World with Blessings!” This is the author, Akatsuki Natsume.
This volume is a serious(?) volume with few scenes of Aqua in it.
In order to catch up to Aqua who left alone on a journey to save humanity, our lazy and cowardly protagonist seriously trains himself and, for the sake of his important companions, gathers his courage and resolves to take down the Demon King.
This time, that description actually fits pretty well.
The scene at the end featuring Megumin is a scene I wanted to write even before I started publishing chapters on the web.
A trashy party that, despite struggling against giant frogs, constantly gets into fights with opponents far stronger than them, before finally picking a fight with the Demon King himself.
I wanted to read such a story, which is why I started writing Konosuba. I hope everyone can be patient and stick with me for just a while more.
Speaking of which, there’s less than a month until the release of the Konosuba movie. [TL note: If you live in America this sentence is also true for you at time of publishing.]
The fact that this barely functional party can make it to a movie version really is an amazing feat. As the author, I’m filled with emotions too.
I hope everyone is as excited to see Kazuma and his party on the big screen as me.
And in the fall, the manga that I wrote about a professional wrestler opening a pet shop in another world, Kemonomichi, will receive an anime adaptation.
I hope for your support there too.
Now, the reason this book is able to make its way into your hands is all thanks to the help of the artist, Mishima Kurone, my editor in charge, designer, proofreader, everyone in the editorial department, and all those other people involved in the process.
And, though I’ve said this so many times that it’s become a cliche, but this, of all things, must be said–
To everyone who supported the Konosuba series, and everyone who bought this volume, my deepest appreciation.
And that’s volume 16. Seems like Konosuba as a series is coming to a conclusion pretty soon. At the rate things are going, it would seem like the next book would be the last in the series, unless Natsume surprises us with a new development. I am hoping that he’ll do a little bit more to expand on the Demon King’s daughter, but otherwise I’m fairly satisfied with how things are going so far. Here’s to him sticking the landing.
As some of you might have noticed, the insert images in this volume and volume 15 are in colour. This is all thanks to Kasen, who filled them all in and gracefully allowed me to use them on my site, so I’d like to express my thanks to him.
Also of important note is Ulti. Ulti has been my primary editor and has stuck with me all the way from 2017 when I first started working on volume 12. He’s also my typesetter, without whom none of the insert images would be in English. I would also like to thank Kasen and Mike for cleaning the images so that we don’t have to copy paste the English text over Japanese.
And of course there’s my editors. Xenthur has been helping me quite often throughout this last two years, and these chapters would be in much poorer shape without him. Striker is one of the newer additions to the team, but he has made himself almost indispensable over the course of this volume. I’m serious, the amount of typos that the three of them have caught in my texts make me question if I even know English at times. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks to all of them.
Now, as usual, the short stories will be released weekly after this update. Unlike previous volumes, Volume 16 only comes with two After that comes the fifth volume of Dust spin-off, which I’m honestly quite excited to start working on. From what I’ve read, it seems to be moving towards a conclusion of Dust’s story too, so no more endlessly teasing the mystery of Dust’s past. I can’t make any promises right now, but it should start going up some time in late November or early December.
There are also a few other projects that I’ve been neglecting, such as the Blu ray short stories and the Everyday life manga series. At least some of them should be making their way onto the site now that all my free time isn’t devoted to Volume 16 anymore, so stay tuned for that.
Now then, till we meet again.