Beware of Knockoffs
[Note: This story takes place sometime around season 2, around volume 3-4 ish, so the status quo is a bit different from the more recent volumes.]
It was sometime after lunch but not yet time for dinner.
On that day, I was wandering around the town of Axel to kill time when I started to feel a little peckish.
Ducking into a roadside stall, I ordered a couple of meat skewers and was happily chowing down on them when an adventurer called out to me.
“Hey, young man over there.”
Judging from the way he addressed me, he’s most likely from out of town.
Maybe I should ignore him.
“… Ah, sorry for interrupting your meal.”
As I chewed on a skewer, I scrutinized the adventurer.
He was about a head or so taller than me, and was wearing a black breastplate underneath a black cloak.
At first glance, he looks hardened and rugged, but at the same time he also has the air of a pretty boy.
From the many and varied notches on his armour and the pair of swords hanging from his waist indicate that he is a veteran adventurer.
His blood red hair and steely gaze are telling me that he isn’t someone who fools around.
— There’s no mistaking it, he’s an adventurer who far outclasses me in both skill and experience.
“You don’t have to stop eating, just hear me out. You see, I’m looking for a person. My name is Kozuma. Zatou Kozuma. I’ve heard that there is a man named Satou Kazuma living in this town. He’s quite famous around the area, as I’ve been led to believe. Do you know where I might find this person?”
I involuntarily spat out the skewer I was eating.
“–Are you alright? I’ve conjured up some water, so drink up. It should help.”
Kozuma handed a cup of water over to me.
“You name was Kozuma, was it? Thanks… Um, you’re an adventurer, right? What business do you have with this Satou Kazuma fellow?”
I said between sips of water.
Our names are just way too similar.
What, don’t tell me, is he going to demand that I change my name because it’s too similar to his, or pay him a fee if I want to continue using it, or the like?
This is the name my parents gave to me, so there’s no reason to pick a fight over it.
Still, if a veteran adventurer were to threaten me over that, I’ll probably end up getting killed.
“You see, his name is very similar to mine, but he seems to have a pretty poor reputation. Thanks to him, I’m always met with distrust wherever I go. So I need to have a few words with him… Well, there are some other reasons too, but…”
Kozuma scratched his head and smiled.
Well, he doesn’t seem to be a bad person at heart, at least.
Mostly it seems like he’s troubled by my reputation. Well, I am aware that most of the rumours surrounding me aren’t exactly stellar.
He doesn’t seem like the rash sort, so he’d probably understand if I explain things to him.
“… Listen to me and don’t get angry, okay? The truth is-”
Just when I made it that far.
“Kozuma! Seriously, how did you run this far in such a short time!? Anyway, did you find that scumbag Kazuma!?”
A woman’s voice called out to us.
Three female adventurers came walking towards us.
“Hey, Kozuma, you look really scary right now. Didn’t we agree to leave the information gathering to us? You look like you’re shaking down an innocent citizen right now, you know?”
Saying that, the black haired mage gave me an apologetic look.
“I’m really sorry, our Kozuma must have caused you so much trouble…”
The blue haired priest bowed and apologized.
“Young man, I’m really sorry. This man isn’t a bad person, so please don’t be afraid. Aah, I’m…”
The blonde knight gave me a bow and said.
“I’m a crusader, Larkness. May I have your name, young man?”
“My name is Tanaka.”
I decided to give them a false name after all.
“Apologies for the wait! Here is the deep fried frog’s tongue you ordered!”
“Ah, that’s the one. This is a local delicacy. It’s really delicious. You can’t visit this town without giving it a try.”
We moved over to another restaurant and talked while having a meal.
The mage girl regarded the plate in front of me with an intense frown.
“F-Frog? Ahh, no, no, no, I can’t eat this. Aren’t there any running hawk kite or snowbird meat I could order instead?”
It seems like it’s the first time they laid eyes on frog meat.
“This is the town of beginnings, you know? The meat of the weakest monster, the giant frog, is a staple in this town. Not many people are willing to hunt stronger creatures that live around here.The skewers that the roadside stall was selling is delicious, but the owner stubbornly refuses to tell anyone what meat he uses. That’s why we call his skewers mystery skewers.”
“I-I can’t believe you are brave enough to eat meat with such unclear origins. You must really be quite something.”
Of course, I hold the weakest class, but there’s no reason to tell them that.
“So, did you find that scumbag Kazuma!?”
“We already asked Tanaka-san earlier. Don’t hold back and dig in. Treat this meal as our thanks for talking with us.”
The priest lady said with a smile.
Her name seems to be Akua.
“Hey, aren’t you going to eat? Hurry up and tell us what a frog tastes like!”
The mage girl looked at me with a gaze of anxious anticipation, seemingly treating me like taste tester.
The other people in her party have names that are very similar to the ones in my party, but this girl in particular…
“Megumi, we are treating this man to a meal as thanks for information. Don’t pester him, let him eat on his own time.”
“Oh, fine… But I really want to know what eating frog meat feels like…”
Megumi said, gazing down but stealthily shooting me gazes of anticipation…
Yes, her name is Megumi.
There are many things I want to say to her, but I kept it to myself and ate a piece of frog meat with my fork…
“It sounds like you are a regular here. I’m sure there are some other more palatable food you can recommend, right?”
Megumi immediately said, cutting me off before I could describe the taste.
If I went to a place I usually hang out, there’s a chance I could run into someone I know. That’s why I went to this out of the way tavern and pretended like I was a regular here.
“Say, Megumi… san, was it? You have a unique name.”
“What’s with that pause? But yes, people do ask about my name a lot. Umm, well… My grandfather gave me this name. It’s said that it means to be blessed.”
I see. So this girl isn’t from Japan, but rather the granddaughter of someone who was.
“So, Tanaka-dono, can you tell us anything about that Kazuma person?”
Larkness asked sternly as I bit into another chunk of frog meat.
I simply continued chewing my food…
“Tanaka-dono? T-Tanaka-dono? What are you looking at?”
Oh right, I’m supposed to be Tanaka right now.
“… Tanaka-san, was it?”
“Yes, Tanaka-san here.”
Akua asked, and I responded after wiping my mouth.
“Right then, let me tell you everything I know about Kazuma.”
And with that, I recounted the events that happened so far–
“—Sniff… What a pitiful person, this Kazuma-san…”
Megumi said between tears after hearing my story.
“Even though he clearly saved the town, he still got saddled with huge debts… And not just once, but twice… unforgivable…!”
Larkness slammed her fist on the table.
To the two of them I smiled and said.
“But those huge debts are nothing to him. Using his sharp mind, he constantly develops new products, and by now he has already paid off his debts and bought a mansion. I’m sure he’s enjoying his happiness somewhere in this town right now…”
It might be somewhat exaggerated, but what I said is by no means a lie.
When I got halfway through, Akua closed her eyes and brought her hands together in prayer.
“He truly is an impressive man.”
Kozuma let out a sigh and leaned back in his chair, gazing at the ceiling.
It might not have been addressed directly at me, but getting such praise made me blush a little.
“It’s really great… It’s really great that Kazuma-san managed to save himself…”
Megumi was already crying tears of sympathy earlier, and now she’s crying tears of joy.
What a sentimental child. And she was so aggressive when we first met too.
Well, being able to clear things up is certainly a relief.
“So, the much beloved Kazuma-san is quite busy every day. If possible, it’s best not to bother him.”
“Well, if that’s the case… I do have some things to say to him, but very well. We’ll head out tomorrow.”
Larkness said with a wry smile.
Just as I felt relief over resolving this matter, Kozuma suddenly looked towards me
“I must thank you, Tanaka. It’s only thanks to you that we could hear such a moving tale.”
With that, he gave me a deep bow.
“–Well, that’s the story. Anyway, I already ate dinner, so you guys can eat on your own today.”
After returning home, I relayed the story of what happened to the rest of the party.
Darkness stopped eating and stared dumbly at me.
“Y-You really are… Is this really okay?”
“What? I didn’t tell a single lie. If you have any comments to make about what I just said, then feel free to lay it out right here.”
I said while petting Chomusuke who decided to take a nap on my leg.
“Well, being able to get the other party’s understanding is fine, isn’t it? We’ve gotten into a lot of trouble lately, so I don’t feel like stirring anything up for a while.”
“Yeah, just as Megumi…n said, I would like some time to laze about too.”
“Aqua, what’s with that weird pause while you were saying my name just now? And I feel like the way you say it is strange too…”
“It’s nothing. Anyway, Megumi…n, can you pass me the soy sauce?”
“You have some guts to make fun of my name! I’m going to make you cry tonight!”
“Hey, what gives, Megumi!? Do you really think a mage like you can match me for strength!? Until you apologize for your baseless accusations earlier, I’ll…!”
With that, Megumi and Aqua started tussling with each other.
“B-Both of you, cut it out. We are still in the middle of dinner. This is too…”
Larkness… No, wait, Darkness worriedly looked at the two of them.
“Still, between Larkness and Darkness, if I have to say which one of them is a more fitting name for a Crusader, I’ll have to say Larkness.”
Lalatina, who, just like Megumin, had been teased about her name many times before, had a conflicted look on her face before she hurried with her meal.
“Waaaaaah! M-Megumin! I get it! I’ll apologize, so please stop! Please stop!”
“You say that, but you’ll call me by that weird name the moment I let go, right!? I’m not letting go until you are in tears!”
While the cries of Aqua sounded besides me.
I silently thanked my lucky stars that I was able to avoid another troublesome incident.
“Satou Kazuma! Where are you! Come out here right now! My fist has some words it’d love to say to your face!”
The next day.
I was awoken by a shout coming from the door.
“Hey, Kazuma, our gates are really noisy this morning! Did you cause some trouble again? I’ll go with you to apologize, so hurry up and apologize to them!”
Aqua suddenly barged into my room and said.
“Why does it have to be me!? You are the one who usually causes trouble… Hold on?”
I got up from my bed, perked up my ears and listened.
“Satou Kazuma! You scoundrel, get out here! What bloody Tanaka, I’ll fucking kill you!”
That voice sounds really familiar.
“Ah, what should we do? Are they the knockoffs that you mentioned yesterday?”
Did they not believe my words and asked other people about me?
Well, in any case, it’d be troublesome to leave them banging on the door.
“Hey, Aqua, what are Darkness and Megumin doing?”
“Those two are currently struggling on the porch. To be more accurate, Darkness is holding Megumin back from charging right out the door.”
Still wearing my pajamas, I went downstairs.
Darkness, let go of me! The root cause of why Aqua made fun of me yesterday is standing right outside!”
“Your names might be quite similar, but she hasn’t actually done anything to you! If you intend on charging out to pick a fight, I can’t just stand idly by!”
Just like Aqua said, Darkness is currently clinging onto Megumin.
“Ah, Kazuma! The people you were talking about yesterday are right outside! They’ve been banging on the door for some time now, and they even called us knockoffs…!”
“Now, now, calm down, Megumin. I’ll take care of them in a snap with my special move.”
I was alone yesterday, so I didn’t push for a confrontation, but now I am at my home along with my companions.
I boldly opened the door and regarded Kozuma.
“I’m going to call the cops. The crimes are destruction of private property and use of threats. The prosecutor here is quite fearsome, so you best prepare yourself.”
Hearing that, Kozuma, who seemed to be about to give me a punch, trembled and halted in place.
“B-Bastard… You lied to us, got us to treat you to a meal, and now you threaten to run to the cops the moment trouble rears its head! You are a worse bastard than the rumours said!”
Kozuma yelled, red in the face. His companions also had similar expressions as the looked at me.
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I’ve never uttered a single falsehood. Besides, it was your idea to treat me to a meal so you can ask me more about Kazuma.”
Megumi, who had been frowning all this while, said.
“Y-You scoundrel! You still have the guts to say that! You told us, ‘That Swordmaster had more than 30 levels over him, and had a magic sword on top of that. It’d only be natural for most people to back down and agree to hand his companions over, but Kazuma is different. Even though he was a low leveled newbie, even though he only had a cheap short sword, even though he had the weakest class, he wouldn’t betray his companions!’ But when I asked about him, it turns out that Swordmaster only challenged you because he wanted to free someone you caged up! And then you stole his sword and sold it…!”
I quickly shot back.
“Hah!? What’s wrong with that!? After receiving a quest to purify the lake, we decided to use the most efficient and safest method of putting her in a protective cage while she got to work! What’s wrong with that!? And he is the one who caused trouble for me! What should I have done!? Fought him head on!? Are you telling me that a newbie with only shabby equipment should fight a man thirty levels above him clad in resplendent armour and a magic sword straight up!?”
She probably never expected me to shoot back with such ferocity. Her face turned pale and she seemed at a loss for words.
“And you were so moved by my tale yesterday! I’ll say it again, none of what I told you yesterday was a lie! Everyone has their own values and views on what constitutes acceptable tactics, which is why others might view that tale differently. But you! You were so moved by that tale yesterday, and now you come to my house to cause a ruckus and call me a liar!”
“T-That’s… N-No, that’s not it. I was really moved by your tale yesterday, but after calming down and sleeping on it, I thought that just hearing one side might not reveal the true story… Plus, every single one of your tales just made you look good…”
I advanced as Megumi stepped back, and unleashed my instant kill line.
“In other words, you still doubt my words even after crying so much! Certainly, there might be some exaggerated elements, but that’s a different story! I clearly agreed to go along out of the goodness of my heart, but to think that you’d doubt me so! Ah, I’m wounded!”
“A-Ah!? T-That’s not my intention…”
I adopted an expression on the verge of tears and looked at Megumi.
“Apologize! Apologize for suspecting me! It’s only natural that everyone would have their own version of events, so hearing different stories is just to be expected!”
“Yeah, apologize! Apologize for suspecting Kazuma! Thought it felt like Kazuma is in the wrong this time, but it’s really not that clear now. But anyway, apologize.”
“While you are at it, apologize for your name too! Thanks to you, I went through a lot yesterday!”
For some reason, Aqua and Megumin joined in with lecturing her.
Just as Megumi is about to give in and apologize…
“Wait a minute! Do you really think you can fool us so easily!? And don’t apologize, Megumi! I’ve heard all about it! Your entire party is a defective one that does nothing but cause trouble.”
After being snapped out of her spiel by Kozuma, Megumi glared at me.
Dammit, and here I thought I’d be able to wrap things up quickly. Guess it won’t be so easy.
“Just what is your problem? I might have exaggerated a few things yesterday, but none of what I said is a lie. I am a proper, upstanding adventurer, Satou Kazuma. My lifestyle isn’t one that causes trouble for others, and I have no reason to lectured by you. If you’re done with what you want to say, then leave.”
I plainly said to Kozuma, who gritted his teeth before replying.
“You scoundrel, the reason we are here in the first place is because your reputation is causing trouble for us!”
…Come to think of it, I recall them saying something similar when we first met.
Darkness gave Kozuma a reassuring smile and said.
“Would you mind telling me exactly what happened? My name is Darkness. My class is a Crusader and I am a faithful worshiper of Eris. Thus, it’s my duty to deal with disputes. If you don’t mind, you can lay your problems to me.”
“Ah, so you are Larkness’s knockoff!”
Darkness stepped back in shock.
“You are even introducing yourself in the same way! Isn’t it obvious…”
“Even the colour of your eyes and hair are the same! But, I’m surprised that you can introduce yourself as a Crusader when you have a name like Darkness that’s more fitting for a Dark Knight.”
With Kozuma’s mockery, Darkness seemed to shrink back and sulk.
“Darkness, get a hold of yourself! Don’t worry about it, I thought that Darkness as a name sounded a little dark when I first heard it, but it’s quite cool sounding once you get used to it! And you real name is really cute too, so there’s no reason to be depressed, Darkness.”
“In other words, my name sounds like the name you’d give to a knockoff… Dark knight… Darkness… Haha, Megumin, what do you think of Darkness as a name?”
“Of course it sounds cool… Why are you suddenly crying!?”
This isn’t good. With just a name, our group has been thrown into chaos.
“Seriously… challenging us just because our names sound a little similar. What a childish act. As a Crimson Demon, I would be glad to answer any challenge, but… the power of my spell is strong enough that even if I hold back, I won’t be able to guarantee your survival. That’s why…”
Megumin’s eyes glowed a bright red as she stood in front of Darkness like she was shielding her.
She’s joking about holding back and what not, right?
Yeah, she’s usually the most hot headed amongst us, yet she is…
“Adventurers should settle things like adventurers. How about a contest? Whoever can gain the approval of others and convince them that you are the real deal wins.”
Megumin, whose name seemed most like a knockoff out of all of us, made such a suggestion.
–After Kozuma and his party left.
I gave Megumin a broad smile and said.
“Well done, Megumin. As expected of the person with the highest intelligence in our party, that’s quite the trick you cooked up.”
Megumin returned my smile.
“You aren’t too bad yourself for seeing through my plan so quickly. Indeed, Axel is our home. It wouldn’t matter how hard they work, compared to us who have known them for a long time, it’s clear who the citizens of Axel would see as the knockoff.”
It looks like this girl isn’t just an explosion maniac.
Even though she thinks of nothing but explosion magic all day, she can still be pretty smart every now and then.
“And it’s winter right now. Only strong monsters will be active in this season. We can just sit back and relax. I don’t know how strong they are, but no matter what, going out to fight winter monsters would be…”
Megumin and I shared a laugh.
“You know, somehow I feel like we are the knockoffs right now.”
After that, we spent two weeks living an indulgent life in the mansion.
“Alright, it’s done. Take a look. These are the silver arrows that I made with my Crafting skill to kill time. It should be quite effective against undead, devils, and werewolves.”
Aqua looked at me out of the corner of her eye as I laid out my arrow on the table in front of the fireplace.
“As always, it’s pretty well made. But, what do you intend to do with it? If you want to hunt devils or the undead, I’m all for it. Are we heading to Wiz’s store next?”
“Just who are you planning to shoot? Anyway, I’ve only made just the one right now, so let’s keep it safe for now.”
I placed the arrow in my quiver, and Aqua, stretching lazily on the sofa, said.
“Hey, Kazuma, we don’t have anything to do anyways, so why don’t we head to the guild for a change?”
“… Yeah, the only time I’ve gone out recently is to accompany Megumin on her trip or to buy stuff. I’d like to spend some time with the others too.”
After noon, the four of us headed to the guild.
The moment I opened the door…
“As expected of Kozuma-san! I have lost count of how many one strike bears you’ve killed. With this, the villagers nearby will be able to live out the winter without worries.”
“Not bad, Kozuma! Would you mind treating me to a drink!?”
“Megumi, I heard it was you who dealt the finishing blow with your spells! Do you mind coming with us to gain some levels next time? Of course, I’ll compensate you.”
“Larkness-san, thank you for saving me back then! This is just a small token of my appreciation!”
The cheerful noises from within the guild overwhelmed me.
Wait a minute. Kozuma? Megumi? Larkness?
“Ah, you finally appeared, you bastard!”
Just as I was still struggling to come to grips with what I’m seeing, the man who was standing at the center of the circle of adventurers saw me and called out.
That man had a very rugged look, and seemed really familiar somehow…
“Ah, that’s right! We were in some kind of competition, right!?”
“Stop joking! You were the ones who suggested it in the first place…!”
Still, what is the meaning of this? How could they be praised so highly in this town that has become my home?
“Hey, Megumin, this isn’t what we expected. They seem to be more capable than we thought. At this rate, we might really end up being regarded as the knockoffs.”
“W-What should we do? Can we change the contents of the challenge now? If we were playing a board game, I’m confident that I won’t lose…”
Just as Megumin and I whispered, Kozuma walked up to us.
“Hey, so, are you satisfied now, knockoffs? The most capable party here is us, so is it settled now?”
“Wait a minute, don’t you feel any shame over using the time while we are recuperating to get a leg up?”
“What are you talking about!? This entire thing was your idea!”
Dammit, Megumin’s knockoff is actually quite smart. They weren’t swept up into our rhythm so easily this time.
“So, do you want to admit defeat? The name Kazuma is hardly ever mentioned in the guild these days!”
Kozuma gave me a victorious smile.
“You ungrateful bastards! Didn’t I treat you all countless times!?”
“What are you saying!? You hardly even show up in the guild these few weeks!”
“Sure, you might have treated us many times, but just like that Aqua of yours, you frequently cause trouble for us, so we are even! I don’t know what kind of contest you two are having, but if you want me to support you, then buy me a drink!”
These guys are no good. Fellow adventurers my ass, I can’t rely on them at all.
Larkness strode up to me.
“This should be enough, young man. Our original reason for coming here is to lecture you, but there is one other matter. With this, it should be clear that we are the stronger party. Now, please listen to our request.
“Please, somebody help! Is there a priest here!? Akua-san!? Is Akua-san here!?”
A female adventurer supporting her bloodied companion barged into the guild.
“If you are looking for me, I’m right here.”
Aqua, standing by the door, said.
“Akua-san…! Oh, it’s just Aqua-san…”
“Apologize! Apologize for being disappointed after seeing me! Don’t you want to heal that person!? My healing magic is the best in the world!”
Kozuma and his party rushed over upon seeing the new arrival.
Kozuma seemed to have been able to tell just how wounded the man was with a glance, and sadly shook his head.
Akua pushed aside Aqua as she complained to the adventurer, and hurried to attend to the wounded.
“… He was attacked by a white wolf, right? Regrettably, this is…”
Akua said and closed her eyes, but prepared to use healing magic in order to ease the pain…
“Sacred Highness Heal!”
Before she could, a white light enveloped the adventurer.
Kozuma and his party yelled in surprise after seeing the man’s injuries close up.
“See that!? Aqua-san can properly heal wounds too! Now apologize! Apologize for ignoring me and seeking some new girl instead!”
“T-Thank you very much, Aqua-san! I’ll treat you to a drink next time!”
Kozuma and his party looked on with unbelieving eyes as the adventurer thanked Aqua.
“Really? Don’t forget to buy me some snacks to go with the wine too. The fried frog’s tongue Kazuma mentioned before sounds really tasty, so please buy that for me as well.”
“Understood, but don’t drink too much. I don’t have that much money.”
Hearing Aqua’s words, Akua stumbled.
Still, white wolf, huh?
White wolves is a carnivorous monster that only appears in the winter, and I doubt the timid adventurers in this town would willingly approach such a dangerous monster…
“W-What, Kazuma, are you seriously willing to accept a drink in payment? And I heard something about sacred highness or something like that earlier…”
Just as Kozuma whispered to me.
The injured adventurer regained consciousness and looked around.
“This place is…? Ah, my wound is healed… Akua-san? Did you heal me?”
The man asked upon seeing Akua who was hugging herself.
“Did you think it was Akua-san? Too bad, but the person who healed you is Aqua-san!”
“Dammit, that was such a good atmosphere too…”
Hearing the man’s complain, Aqua grabbed his neck.
Akua, looking defeated, gazed silently on.
“No, wait! Aqua, strangle him later. I have something to ask him. Hey, why were you attacked by a white wolf in the first place? I know you aren’t very skilled, but I’m sure you at least know not to approach their hunting ground, right?”
“Er, well, you see… The white wolves suddenly appeared near the town out of nowhere. As long as they can smell an open wound, they’ll attack you without a second thought.”
The surrounding adventurers glanced at each other.
“So this world has an ecosystem too.”
The snow covered fields outside of Axel shimmered pure white as far as the eye could see.
Kozuma and I left the guild and arrived here along with our companions.
“White wolves frequently fight with one strike bears in the winter. In a one on one match, the one strike bear would win, but not against a group. One strike bears that come out during the winter in search of food frequently come into conflict with white wolves, which keeps their population stable.”
I said to myself, Kozuma, walking next to me, lowered his head.
“So that’s why the people around here don’t go out in winter… but we…”
He seemed very despondent.
If I told him that I pretty much made all of that up, he’d probably kill me right now.
“True, normally, white wolves wouldn’t come this close to human settlements. It might very well be as Kazuma said… Though, it feels very much like Kazuma is lecturing Kozuma-san right now…”
Megumin agreed with me and also softly mentioned an unnecessary thing under her breath.
“In any case… There are just way too many of them! We should go back and return with some more adventurers. With Aqua-san’s healing magic, they shouldn’t have any problems fighting with them!”
Megumi pointed towards the large pack of white wolves in the distance, that were also looking in our direction.
“It’s not that big of a deal. you can handle that without any problems, right, Megumin?”
“It’ll be a piece of cake.”
Kozuma and his party seemed taken aback after hearing what we just said.
“W-Wait a minute! I don’t know what kind of spells you are planning on using, but against such numbers, a spellcaster will be easily singled out. Let me and Kozuma buy some time first…”
Saying that, Larkness removed the shield from her back.
“No, leaving the white wolves aside, there’s no way you’ll be able to withstand Megumin’s spell. It’d be best for me to go forward alone.”
Saying that, Darkness strode out to the front.
“Wait, are you really okay with that? Kazuma? Your companion…”
Perhaps out of concern for Darkness-
“Our Crusader extremely hard. Not only can she take a blow from a Demon King’s general, she can also withstand a hit from an Explosion. If there is a blow that she cannot withstand, I don’t think anyone else can.”
I said to put Kozuma at ease, but for some reason, Kozuma gulped and seemed even more nervous than before.
“Well, if anything happens, I’ll make sure to resurrect you immediately, so don’t worry.”
Once again, Kozuma and his party seemed at a loss for words.
It’s also at this point when I noticed that they seem to be looking at me with a gaze of anticipation.
Why are they looking at me like that?
What, are they expecting me to pull out some amazing skills too?
Apologies, but the only flashy skill I know is Steal. I don’t have anything amazing like those other three.
Though, white wolves are stronger than the average monster around these parts. If I don’t find a weakness or two…
“Kazuma, that must be the alpha of that pack. It looks a little larger than the rest.
I used my Farsight skill to take a closer look at where Darkness is pointing.
“Yeah, it really is bigger than the rest. There are also a few female wolves around it. That is definitely the leader of the pack.”
Kozuma muttered to himself.
“…I see, the Farsight skill.”
Is there a way…
Just then, I was reminded of something and retrieved an arrow from my quiver.
Akua, the priest, seemed to notice something about the arrow and muttered.
“… Did you already expect such a thing to happen as a result of our actions and made preparations…”
He seems to be under some kind of misunderstanding.
“… Well, there’s no better place to use this…”
There’s no reason for me to correct him, and Kozuma and his party’s gaze became one of admiration.
“Hey, Kazuma, didn’t you say you made that arrow because you were bored?”
“Aqua, I’ll buy you your favourite wine when we get back, so please be quiet.”
After whispering to Aqua, I nocked my bow.
The pack of white wolves seemed to notice this action and charged towards us.
“Megumin, start chanting your magic! I’ll take out the alpha, but if they don’t back down after that, we’ll have to rely on you! Darkness, buy us some time with your decoy skill!”
“Very well, I’ll vent all my frustrations over not being able to take out any monsters recently all at once! Behold my ultimate spell, Explosion!”
“Don’t worry, I will definitely not let them pass. Go ahead and take me with them!”
“A-Are you serious!? Explosion magic…”
Megumi looked at Megumin with a disbelieving expression, and slowly started edging backwards.
“Come to think of it, back when we had the fight outside the mansion, the little mage girl said ‘ the power of my spell is strong enough that even if I hold back, I won’t be able to guarantee your survival.’. So that wasn’t just a boast…”
Kozuma said while gazing into the distance.
“Kazuma, I’ve cast support magic on you, so go right ahead!”
“My luck is second to none! Leave that guy to me!”
After receiving Aqua’s support spell, I used Snipe and let loose my arrow.
The arrow flew unerringly to the alpha’s forehead, and it died immediately.
A normal arrow probably wouldn’t have killed it so easily. I’m not sure what else I can do with it right now, but I think I’ll try and make more use of my Crafting skill in the future.
Of course, this success is also thanks to the great luck I was born with.
“The other wolves haven’t retreated! They are still coming towards us… No, to that Crusader lady!”
As I was mentally congratulating myself, Kozuma shouted in a panic.
At the same time, Megumin gave me a look.
I immediately understood, she has completed her chant for Explosion.
The moment Megumin heard those words, she unleashed her spell.
The snow that covered the fields evaporated into a thick fog in an instant, and the shockwave swept through the entire plain.
“We are really sorry challenging you!”
Kozuma bowed and apologized after we took out the white wolves.
“N-No, no, it’s fine. Well, As long as you understand that. Just don’t come smashing on our door again!”
Seeing their attitude make a 180 degree turn, I took the chance to be a little conceited.
“Really, thanks to you, my reputation as the best healer in Axel was almost taken away! Hurry up and apologize! This is the nickname everything in this town gave to me! Don’t take away my accomplishments!”
Aqua, similarly conceited, immediately started demanding an apology. Though, if I’m not wrong, the others only gave her that nickname to butter her up so she would use recovery magic..
Darkness pushed us away and gave them a reassuring smile.
“Still, you went on thoise extermination quests with the town in mind. That is worthy of praise. Just, in the future…”
“Hah, this is a piece of cake to us! It’s nothing compared to one of the Demon King Generals!”
Megumin, lying on the ground, interrupted Darkness.
Kozuma and the others broke out into laughter.
“What an amazing person! I bet all those ill rumours about you were spread by those jealous of what you’ve achieved. I should be the one ashamed to travel all this way to pick a fight with you. My deepest apologies.”
“O-Oh, yeah, well, it’s fine.”
“I’m really sorry. We might not look like it, but we are a fairly famous adventuring party too. When I first heard rumours about you, I thought it was just someone imitating us to steal our thunder. But then the rumours got worse…”
“Yeah, one of the rumours concerns something very important to us…”
I curiously asked after hearing Megumi and Larkness’s words.
“The Demon King’s general, Hans. He originally defeated one of my companions. I became an originally adventurer in order to avenge him.”
What the hell, this sounds just like the backstory you’d give to the protagonist of a fantasy story.
Come to think of it, he did mention he had some other matter when he first met me.
Could that be…
“Kazuma-san, I thank you for avenging my companion. Thank you. This is the message that I needed to convey to you no matter what.”
Saying that, Kozuma fell into a deep bow.
Oh dear, what am I to do?
Compared to us who went to Alcanretia for a vacation and exhibited such petty behaviour earlier, these guys definitely seem more protagonist like.
“… So did the rest of you become adventurers for the same reason?”
After muttering a short prayer, Darkness asked.
Yes, you are our last hope, Darkness.
I’m counting on you. I did think that your name felt like a dark knight’s the moment I met you, but I’m really sorry.
“No, I… I was originally a knight of a territory that was taken over by the Demon King’s army. I became an adventurer in order to rebuild my homeland and take vengeance for my companions.”
“I-Is that so…”
Darkness said in a voice filled with respect.
This isn’t good. No matter how you look at it, they seem far more protagonist like than us.
Sensing that she’d be the next to go, Megumi showed a distressed expression.
“As for me, well… The grandfather who gave me my name is a very powerful mage. In order to uphold my family’s legacy, I…”
“Okay, that’s enough!”
And now there is a descendant of some great mage!
“–I’m really sorry for causing you so much trouble.”
Kozuma said they’ll be heading onwards on their journey instead of returning to the guild.
We sent them off with a defiant smile, almost as if to say ‘We haven’t lost out to you.’
“No, it’s fine. The more famous a person is, the more people would want to slander them. If you run into someone like this along your journeys, please teach him a lesson for me.”
Kozuma nodded without a hint of joviality upon hearing my words.
No, no, there’s no need to treat it so seriously.
“If someone dares speak ill of my benefactor, there’s no way I’ll let them go. If people continue spreading such rumours, I’ll be sure to teach them a lesson. After all, the rumours that are going around are just too much.”
I’m an idiot for asking.
Kozuma thought for a moment.
“….Yes, for instance, there is a rumour where you tied your companion up and dragged them behind your carriage. There’s no way that would be true.
“I also heard that you stole the panties of your party’s mage. Thinking about it, that’s clearly impossible. She’s your companion, after all, and she’s still quite young…”
No, wait, stop.
“There are even worse rumours, like wantonly using magic to lay waste to the countryside, or destroying all the hot springs of Alcanretia… I, I, I also frequently get people coming up to me with ‘Larkness, are you a masochist? Can I berate you?’ and other such ridiculous things. Of course, I sent them all packing, but just what is going on..”
“But I believe that there is not a speck of truth in these rumours!”
Akua said with a gentle smile—
—The four of us immediately got on our knees and apologized.