Telling the Other Side of that Story
[Part one is in the prologue, in case anyone missed it.]
It has been several months since then.
The town of Axel is just as lively as ever. There was a period of time when Kazuma vanished off to the capital for what seemed to be for good, but he ended up crawling back anyways.
That explosion girl’s little sister also came to town to play for a while. That was… an experience.
Apart from that, there was also the matter of Darkness’s secret troubles. Well, if nothing else, I can’t say that this town is ever boring.
“It isn’t the kind of life past me could’ve imagined.”
I muttered while nursing my drink at the tavern.
“Why are you getting all melancholic for? It doesn’t suit you at all. You ran out of money again, didn’t you? That waitress was complaining about it just now. You order nothing but water, so if you order another glass she’s going to dump a whole load of salt into it.”
“I haven’t been getting much salt recently, so that’s just fine.”
“Dust, if you don’t rein it in, she might actually put poison in it.”
I thought only Lynn was here, but it seems like Taylor is hanging around too.
“It’s Dust we are talking about. Even if he actually drank poison, all he’ll get is a stomachache, right?”
Keith said as he sat down next to me.
I was enjoying my time alone, but for some reason all my companions chose this moment to show up.
“If I do end up with a stomach ache, I’ll just sue the guild for a large amount of money.”
“You really are trash. It’s a little too late to be saying this, but wow.”
Don’t sigh like that. It’s like you’re putting on an act.
“In this world, as long as you have money, you can get by. So, lend me some money.”
“Say, do you know the meaning of the phrase ‘saving up’?”
Lynn said in a gentle tone, but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“I’ve heard the phrase before, but I don’t know what it means!”
“He-He said it so boldly. Do you not even know what a poor state you’re in?”
“Man, this guy is really something. I don’t ever want to go down to his level.”
The two of them were saying something. I can accept getting lectured by Taylor, but that’s the last thing I want to hear from Keith.
The only difference between me and Keith is that he is just slightly luckier.
“You know, the only reason I seem like a trashy person is because I don’t have money. If I have money, my mind and soul will be cleansed of worries and I’ll be able to live a virtuous life. You’ve heard the saying, the rich cares not for the struggles of the poor, right? So, lend me some money.”
“No way. Do you have any intention of getting off your feet and earning money with your own hard work?”
“Not at all! I want to earn money without having to put in hard work! If I am to work, it will only be because I can earn big bucks with little effort! Otherwise I’m not working! Not ever!”
At the exact instant those words left my mouth,
“Emergency quest! Emergency quest! All adventurers in the town, please gather at the guild hall immediately!”
That announcement echoed throughout the town.
I looked over to the guild counter, and Luna, the receptionist, had a magic item that allowed her voice to be broadcasted through the town in her hands.
“It’s been a while since we had an emergency quest. I wonder what is it this time?”
“It isn’t the season for cabbages just yet. Hopefully it isn’t another Demon King’s general knocking on our gates or something equally troublesome.”
“But, Taylor, if it isn’t about cabbages, what other matter would make them call for an emergency quest?”
Keith placed a hand on his chin and looked over in my direction, but there’s no way I would know anything about that.
I shrugged my shoulders, and the announcement continued.
“I repeat, all adventurers within the town, please gather at the guild hall immediately…. All adventurers…”
At this point, Luna took in a deep breath before shouting.
“The Treasure Island has appeared!”
The moment we heard that, every single adventurer in the guild, us included, got to our feet and rushed to the counter.
“Hey, stop pushing! Make some space!”
“Who is the bastard who elbowed me!? Hey, don’t touch my butt!”
“I’m here first, move!”
There are already quite a few adventurers making a fuss around the counter, but I can’t afford to back down here!
“There are enough rucksacks, helmets, and pickaxes for everyone, so there’s no need to rush!”
I pushed my way through the adventurers and desperately extended my hand.
After somehow managing to get my hands on a set of equipment, I flew out of the guild along with my party members.
Around us, several other adventurers who were similarly equipped were already running full pelt towards the town gates.
We can’t afford to lose here!
“What a great stroke of fortune! To think that we’d happen to be the Treasure Island’s target this time round!”
“I’ve heard the rumours, but I never thought I’d be able to see it in person… If I recall, that divine beast only surfaces once every decade or so to bask in the sun. I didn’t expect it to surface near Axel of all places.”
“This is a once in a lifetime chance! We can’t let it get away from us! We have until the sun sets. Once that happens, the divine beast will once again delve back into the depths of the earth.”
“I’m going to stuff my bag until it’s bursting! They call it a divine beast, but basically it’s just a gigantic turtle, right? Leave the ropes to me! I’ll use my arrows to drive them into the very best spots!”
Keith is really useful in such situations. He has the Farsight and Snipe skills, so he should be able to secure a good spot before anyone else gets in the way.
The so called “Treasure Island” is, just like Lynn mentioned, the common name for a divine beast. It bears a resemblance to a gigantic tortoise, and normally lives deep underground. However, once every ten years or so, it’ll come up to the surface for a day.
It seems to subsist by eating rare ores, so whenever it surfaces, a large amount of rare ores and other valuable minerals will be stuck to its shell.
This is why it’s called a Treasure Island.
The adventurers rushing towards the town gates aren’t after the tortoise itself, but rather the mass of rare ores and minerals that it carries.
“… Seriously? I mean, I heard the rumours, but…”
I knew it was a gigantic tortoise, but I didn’t expect it to be this gigantic.
The Treasure Island spread out it’s honestly humongous body just by the road near the gates of the town.
It’s size can only be compared to that of a small mountain, and every bit of that mountain is covered with precious ores.
By all appearances, it seems to be just taking an afternoon nap. It’s eyes are closed, it’s legs were splayed out, and it seems to pay no heed to our existence.
Seeing such an unexpected display of power caused me to stop and swallow a breath.
It’s not just huge, it’s very presence exudes a solemn aura. I understand why people refer to it as a divine beast.
“Oh, right, we don’t have time to just stand around. Keith, I’m counting on you!”
“Leave it to me! Does that spot seem good?”
Keith tied a rope to a claw tipped arrow and fired it to one of the tallest peaks on the tortoise.
After confirming that it’s firmly attached, all of us climbed up as a group.
“Hey, get out of the way! That’s my spot!”
After securing a particularly shiny spot, I waved my companions over.
I thought I heard a familiar voice, and when I glanced over, I could see Kazuma and his party off in the distance. Sir Vanir and Wiz were with him too.
Seems like I’ll have to get on with it if I don’t want someone else to beat me to the punch.
“Alright, start digging! Dig until your arms feel like falling off! We are never going to get another chance like this again! Feel free to treat everyone around you like they are enemies!”
“I don’t need you to tell me that!”
Even Lynn had a wild look in her eyes as she swung her pickaxe around.
The reason why she’s so uncharastically excited is most likely because of the jewel like clumps that fly out whenever her pickaxe hit home. It’s said that women are weak to shiny objects… though I suppose in this case, that also applies to men.
Still, just as I heard in the rumours, we’ll be able to easily gather a large amount of precious ores from this Treasure Island. Alright, I’m going to dig until the turtle goes back underground!
The people around me were working with the same maniac fervour. Though, the only people around me were all adventurers.
You’d think that the residents of the town would also come out to grab a piece of such a profitable occasion, but there is a reason why they are staying behind the town walls.
“Ah, dammit, I hit a rock mimic!”
When I turned to look towards the sound of that scream, I saw a man getting grappled by a creature that looked very much like a grey octopus.
As its name suggests, a rock mimic is a troublesome creature that disguises itself as rock formations.
Because of their presence, the people who aren’t able to defend themselves had to stay away.
“Dust, please help me!”
The adventurer asked me for help.
Of course, there’s only one response I could give.
“You idiot! You’re not that weak, are you!? I have faith in your ability to defeat it! Go for it! Even on the off chance that you do die, I’ll properly mine out that spot for you, so you can move on without any regrets!”
“You bastard! Are you abandoning me!? You’re thinking that if I bite it, your share will be increased, right!?”
What’s this guy saying? Isn’t it obvious?
“This is a battlefield. Weaklings who can’t defend themselves best turn tail and run before they lose their lives. I’ll show you the high quality ore I managed to get afterwards, so you can cry tears of joy then!”
“If someone were to drop out, that’ll just mean more money for the rest of us! We have no obligation to save you! If anything I should be thankful for the existence of the monsters!”
Keith joined in, his eyes blinded by greed.
Right now, every second counts. I have no time to be concerned with others while there’s a mountain of treasure lying right before me.
Plus I am very well aware of that guy’s abilities.
He might struggle a little, but he shouldn’t have any issues taking care of that monsters. Though it’d probably take some time for him to defeat the monster without help.
“Do you guys not have a shred of humanity in your heart?”
“You idiot! Adventurers are never more than a few steps away from death! Everyone here should’ve already accept that reality long before they even stepped foot on this beast! Lending him aid is an insult to his resolve! Ah, I found a huge manatite!”
With this, I’ve secured enough money to pay for this month’s drinks.
“You really are… Hang on, I’ll be right over.”
“I can’t just leave him there. I’ll go with you.”
Lynn and Tailor went over to help the group that’s struggling with the rock mimic.
Those two really are soft hearted. They should be more concerned with their own finances over the well-being of others.
Keith and I ignored them and continued digging.
“What? You’re annoying. If you have time to flap your gums, you should be moving your arms instead.”
“I just hit a… jewel mimic.”
Looking up, a giant shimmering octopus like creature was wriggling towards us at high speed.
“Lynn, Tailor, lend me a hand! You guys too, don’t just stand there, help!”
I asked the adventurers around me for help, but they barely looked up from their mining.
“Hey, aren’t adventurers supposed to help each other in times of need!? You heartless bunch!”
Keith shouted, but they ignored him too.
Lynn and Taylor started digging around the area of the group that they helped, and didn’t glance over in my direction at all.
That bastard even gave me the middle finger!
“Even if I make it rich, I ain’t treating any of you! Dammit, Keith, let’s take care of it… Keith!? Wait, where are you going!?”
Before I knew it, Keith had already run away to a safe spot.
“I have faith in you, Dust… With this, there’ll be one less adventurer competing with us. I’ll pick up your bones later, so rest easy!”
“You bastard! You best remember thiiiiis!”
With my sword in my right hand and a pickaxe in my left, I lunged towards the jewel mimic.
In the end, even though it took a lot of time, I managed to take out the jewel mimic.
Fortunately the treasure island stayed up long enough for me to fill my bags even with that interruption.
There were plenty of things I wanted to say to my companions and the people around me, but I was too exhausted to press the issue.
I didn’t even have the energy left to book a room in an inn. I simply fell asleep as soon as I made it to the stables.
“–Hey, come on, get up already!”
“Eh!? What’s going on!?”
A sudden loud voice by my ear brought me to my senses.
When I looked around, my eyes fell upon a familiar face.
“Eh? When did you learn to speak in such a wild manner? Though, it’s much better than the stiff tone you usually use.”
“What are… My apologies. It seems I was still half asleep.”
Why did I speak in such a rough manner?
“It’s just like you to sleep in the same stables as the Dragons.”
That person laughed, her white teeth glinting in the morning sun.
“Say, did you hear about it?”
“What matter are you referring to?”
I pretended to be ignorant and answered her question with a question. To be honest, I know exactly what she’s referring to.
And I also know exactly what she wants me to say.
“Hmm, it’s fine if you don’t know. Say, when exactly are you going to give me a ride?”
“That would never happen. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s way too dangerous.”
“What? You petty bastard.”
Her cheeks puffed up like a squirrel’s, but I know she isn’t being serious.
I really don’t want to think about what she’s like when she really gets into a mood.
“****-sama, you really shouldn’t be using such words.”
“You sound like my grandfather. I properly behave myself in official settings, so this much is fine. I too know the right place and time to let my hair down.”
“As long as you’re aware.”
This happens all the time, but she really does love teasing me.
Even so, she is the princ-
“How long do you intend to sleep for!?”
“I didn’t really get much time to sleep after going with you last night… Oh, hey, Lynn.”
Did I misidentify her because of that dream?
Lynn’s expression changed from one of exasperation to one of surprise.
“What’s with your words? They really creep me out…”
“What did you think of my knightly interpretation? I heard that knights with high income and a stable lifestyle are really in these days, so I’ve been practicing to prepare myself for marriage fraud. Oh, wait, don’t tell me, did you heart just skip a beat?”
“Of course not! Stop doing stupid things and get up already.”
Seems like I managed to smooth things over somehow.
That was really close. I must have been really tired to mess up like this.
I used to see that dream pretty often, but it’s been a long time since I had it. Did I finally get over it, or am I having too much fun right now that I can’t even be bothered to remember the past anymore?
“Anyway, Yunyun was looking for you.”
“It’s rare to see her go out and search for someone of her on accord. Did she manage to grow as a person?”
“I wonder. We called out to her because she was standing close to us, fidgeting and repeatedly shooting glances at us. Otherwise she probably wouldn’t have told us anything.”
You’re making her sound as suspicious as heck. Come on, isn’t it about time she could at least talk to my companions normally?
I wonder what Yunyun wanted with me.
When I walked into the guild, Yunyun was seated in the corner seat by the window.
Her gaze was darting every which way in the guild, and her entire demeanour just oozed anxiousness.
Keith and Taylor were seated a short distance away. Seems like they want to give us some space.
“RIght, I’ll see you later.”
Lynn moved to join Taylor and Keith at the table, so I took a seat opposite Yunyun.
“What do you want with me so early in the morning? Do you want me to lend you some money or something?”
“I haven’t fallen that low! Er, well, you see, there’s a favour I need to ask of you.”
She fiddled with her fingers as she hesitantly spoke.
Ah, I see what she’s trying to say.
“Oh, a confession, huh? Sorry, but I don’t really find girls of your age attractive. Come back in three years if you still feel the same way.”
“I-It’s not a confession! Even I have the right to choose who I fall in love with! Recently, rumours have been going around about how I’ve been tricked by some good for nothing delinquent, so it’s getting harder and harder to approach people! What are you going to do about that?”
“Heck if I know. Anyway, didn’t you have something to talk about? If you don’t need me, I’ll be heading back. I have a very important job to start drinking in the morning.”
“That isn’t a job! Argh, just listen to me.”
Usually she’d criticize me a little more. Something’s different about her today.
It’s normal for her to be tense, but she only usually does that if someone else is present. When it’s just the two of us, she is usually far more relaxed.
Well, I suppose I could at least hear her out.
“I really didn’t want to ask you for help, but there is no one else I can turn to for help. I’m really reluctant, but please-”
“If you don’t like it, then go ask someone else… Oh, right, you don’t have anyone else! Very well, lonely little Crimson Demon, I shall hear you out. Feel free to tell me about your troubles.”
“Please stop imitating Vanir-san! This is why I didn’t want to ask you!”
Yunyun angrily slammed on the table. Seems like I teased her a little too much.
Seems like it’s a pretty serious matter to her.
“Okay, okay. Anyway, stop beating around the bush and tell me about what you need my help with.”
“Whose fault do you think… Well, you see, err, umm, Dust-san, I… But, if I bring Dust-san back, will dad get the wrong idea?”
After a brief start, Yunyun once again started mumbling to herself.
A waitress happened to pass by just then, so I beckoned her over.
“Hey, waitress, bring me some beer and something filling. This girl would be paying. Right, Yunyun?”
Yunyun seems to be lost in her own world and offhandedly agreed.
“There you go. Make it snappy.”
With this, I can fill my belly on someone else’s dime. Sure, I can easily afford such a meal right now, but I’ll never give up the opportunity to eat for free.”
As I started digging into the meal that was brought before me, Yunyun raised her head with determination.
“I-I’ve made my choice! Dust-san, please come with me to the Crimson Demon Village!”
“Pfft! Ack! Gack! It went up my trachea!”
“Kyaaa! That’s dirty!”
Those words were so far from anything I expected that I couldn’t help but spit out my beer.
“Hey, hey, we aren’t even dating yet, so isn’t it a little too early to meet your parents?”
“T-T-That’s not it! Even I have the right to choose who I date! I mean, it’s a personal request. I want you to go to the village and undertake the chieftain’s trial with me. In order to become the next chief of the Crimson Demons, one needs to go through a trial that requires two members. So will you please team up with me? I’m a spellcaster, so I need someone to protect me.”
After saying that much, Yunyun stared at me, her cheeks blushing slightly.
I see, so that’s what it is.
If the chieftain’s trial is to be undertaken with a team of one Crimson Demon and one other member, then the other person should by rights be a swordsman or a knight or some other frontline class.
The only person that Yunyun knows who could be called a vanguard is me.
I do want to praise her for thinking of me when she wants a reliable man, but,
“Huh? I made a fortune off that Treasure Island the other day, so I don’t need to work right now. Though, if you can introduce me to some busty Crimson Demon ladies, I wouldn’t might going along.”
It really is a shame. Right now, I’m loaded with money, so I don’t feel like working at all.
“At least consider it for a moment! How could you say something so scummy!?”
“Scummy? Come now, the only reason one performs hard labour is to earn money. My wallet is overflowing right now, so what possible reason is there for me to exert myself?”
“If your f-frien…If a girl you know is in trouble, don’t you feel any desire to offer aid?”
“Not at all! If you desire my help, then you best bring me a rich, beautiful, erotic woman who’s head over heels for me!”
“Your demands just increased! Argh, nevermind, I’ll just ask someone else!”
With that partling line, Yunyun got to her feet and sped off.
“What’s with her? Is she entering her rebellious period?”
“Couldn’t you have given her a better answer? I feel so sorry for her.”
Lynn said as she sat in the seat recently abandoned by Yunyun.
What better answer, that’s my honest reply.
“She really came in at the wrong time. If she asked me before the Treasure Island, I might be willing to go with her, but now that my wallet is overflowing, I don’t feel like working at all.”
“… I can only say she asked the wrong person. It seems like she wants a vanguard, so it doesn’t seem like I can be of help.”
Crimson Demons are expert spellcasters. Their naming sense and culture is a little weird, but no one can deny their skill when it comes to magic.
From what I’ve heard, Yunyun is considered quite exceptional even amongst Crimson Demons. If she has to ask for help, that trial of hers must be quite troublesome indeed.
“Well, if she really can’t find anyone else, I might consider it.”
“I don’t think she’ll come back after you refused her like that. Still, does she have anyone else to turn to?”
Now that Lynn mentions it…
The only people in this town that Yunyun can easily talk to would be that Explosion girl, Sir Vanir, and me, pretty much.
And then I suppose there’s Kazuma. If it concerns the Crimson Demon Village, she’ll probably reach out to Megumin’s companions, which includes Kazuma.
His friends call him Scumzuma, but he is a good natured person at heart.
If you look past her loner nature and social awkwardness, Yunyun is a pretty decent person. To someone who’s surrounded by quirky companions like Kazuma, she’s a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Plus, Kazuma is the kind of person who can’t refuse if someone requests his aid.
I’m sure it’ll work out somehow.
“Still, I’m surprised you refused, Dust.”
“Really? Yunyun might seem pretty normal, but the Crimson Demon village is filled with people as crazy as the explosion girl, right? That’s a den of insanity.”
The Crimson Demons are a race of battle maniacs. From what I’ve heard, every single one of them is a powerful Archwizard and think nothing of casually using Advanced Magic.
I don’t want to visit the hometown of those people if I can help it.
“Well, naming sense aside, the Crimson Demons are famous for having a lot of beauties.”
“… Wait a minute. What did you just say?”
“You’ve seen Megumin and Yunyun, right? The Crimson Demons are famous for having a lot of beauties. And, you’ve heard Kazuma talk about how they don’t get a lot of contact with people outside the village, so a lot of their women are desperate to meet other men, right?”
I think I’ve heard Kazuma say something like that over a couple of drinks.
I was pretty deep into my cups back then, so I forgot most of it, but… Yeah, he did say that.
“Hey, where did Yunyun-san go!? I’ll be glad to go with her!”
“She left the guild a long time ago. What a shame.”
T-This girl, what’s so amusing, smiling like that?
Dammit, I let this opportunity slip by.
A village full of beautiful women, huh? If that’s really the case, I could’ve put up with their craziness and strange culture and naming sense for a while.
I looked out the window, gazing wistfully at the prey I let slip through my fingers.
Just then, a sudden boom echoed throughout the town, followed shortly by a large cloud of smoke somewhere in the distance.
Is that problem child doing her daily explosion routine again?
She’s a Crimson Demon too… You know what, I think I’ll pass on taking a trip to the village after all.
I had money to spare, so instead of drinking at the guild, I enjoyed a pint at a bar situated at a corner of the shopping district.
When I leaned back and savoured the taste of high quality beer, a strange man walked into the bar.
He was wearing a full body black robe complete with a hood. I wouldn’t pay too much attention to him normally, but his face had that hint of androgynity that marks him out as a lady killer.
You don’t often see this kind of person walking around in this day and age.
Judging from his appearance, I doubt he has a respectable occupation. Most likely, he’s an adventurer.
I haven’t seen him around before. That must mean he’s a newbie.
Educating the newbie adventurers of this town is pretty much my job. As usual, I’ll put on some pressure and extract a tuition fee from him… Hey, isn’t that Kazuma? What is he doing?
Kazuma seems to be observing the black robed man from a distance.
Is he an acquaintance of his? I suppose I can spare some tuition fees if that’s the case.
“Hey, Kazuma, what’s up? You’ve been staring at that man for a while now. Don’t tell me you bend that way? Or is he a friend of yours?”
“Of course not! He’s not really a friend of mine either…”
He isn’t? Then you won’t mind if I do something to him, right?
When I approached the hooded man who was enjoying a drink alone at his table, he turned to look at me.
The closer I get, the more his face looks like the sort women go crazy for. I’m certain they will be lining up to throw themselves at him even if he doesn’t do anything.
… I’m getting angrier just by thinking about it.
“Oh, I haven’t seen your pretty face around before. My name is Dust. I’m a little famous around these parts.”
“… What did you suddenly come here for? Do you have some business with me?”
He has the voice of a lady killer too. There isn’t even the slightest hint of a tremor in his voice. Maybe I should turn up the pressure a little.
“I already named myself, so shouldn’t you name yourself too? Don’t you know what courtesy is? Eh?”
“… My name is Duke. I’ll ask again, do you have some business with me?”
He replied calmly. I’m sure he’s actually shaking in his boots and only putting on a tough front.
That’s a common response. Just a little push should be enough to set him over.
“You’re a new adventurer here, right? I just said it, but I’m a little famous around these parts. It’ll save you a lot of trouble down the road if you treat me to a drink.”
“Ho, you wish to extort money from me? … I see, there really are all kinds of folks out there. It’s not often I experience something so interesting.”
Oh, what a prideful boast.
He sure looks cool standing up, but I’m not one to back down so eas… What the hell is this guy!?
I can feel an intense pressure emanating from him that sunk down to my very bones.
Was this guy hiding his strength? This pressure is something that far outpaces any of the run-of-the-mill monsters you can find.
W-What should I do? I can’t freak out and back down here. It’d be one thing to be looked down upon by this guy, but I have everyone else in the bar to consider.
“Heh, you passed. Yes, that’s how adventurers should be. For us, it’s all over if we get looked down upon. That’s why I frequently call out to newbie adventurers like this. If they are the kind of cowards who honestly fork over the money, I’ll tell them that they aren’t suited to be an adventurer and go back to their mother. And for someone like you, how about a drink?”
“… Is that so? You’re quite interesting indeed.”
With that, Duke sat back down.
Yeees!! I managed to worm myself out of that somehow.
That was pretty good, if I do say so myself. I bet it’d be good enough for a performance on stage. Maybe I should try to become an actor.
I waved the waitress over and ordered a drink for this guy before making my excuses and leaving.
I casually walked over to Kazuma who was still observing us from a distance…
“Hey, Kazuma, what the hell is he?! If you knew he was such a dangerous person, you should’ve told me! I ended up having to treat him to a drink!”
Kazuma seems exasperated, but he seems to be interested in Duke’s true strength. I told him that he’s probably strong enough to go toe to toe with a Demon King’s general, and he fell into deep thought.
Even though I warned him, Kazuma still ended up approaching Duke, and somehow managed to hit it off with him.
… Just what was Kazuma doing here in the first place?
A few days later, I found myself in that bar again.
Just like the other day, Duke was sitting alone at a table.
It’s probably best for me not to get involved with him, but I am a little curious as to why Kazuma is so interested in that person.
As I looked around, a woman wearing an expensive dress that was completely out of place in this commoner’s bar entered through the doors.
She’s wearing extremely thick makeup, but that’s Darkness, right? What’s she doing here all dolled up like that?
She took a seat besides Duke and started conversing with him, but, well, the best way to find out why she’s here is to ask her directly.
“Hey, isn’t that Darkness? What are you doing here with a dress like that? This isn’t a shop fit for nobility, you know? Hey, Lady of the Dustiness house, now that you’re here, why don’t you treat me to a drink?”
Darkness made a deeply displeased face upon seeing me.
“… Have you mistaken me for someone else? I am-”
“What are you talking about, Lalatina? It’s me, Dust! We’ve adventured together and gone through a lot of other stuff too! Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about that!”
What’s with this girl, treating me like a stranger?
Hey, she is she suddenly grabbing my hand? She hasn’t gotten desperate because Kazuma wouldn’t… Oh, she just gave me a bag of coins.
I don’t really get it, but I guess she’s telling me she can’t talk to me right now. Oh well, I guess I can go elsewhere for today.
I could head to the Succubus shop with this money, but I spotted Kazuma and the party priest observing Darkness from a corner, so I decided to stick around for a little while more and watch how things went.
She seems to be trying to hit on Duke. She’s putting a lot of effort into it, but it doesn’t seem to be working out.
In the end, all Darkness got for her efforts is a whole heaping load of embarrassment.
Judging from the way Kazuma and Aqua were happily watching him, they must be having some kind of bet. It’s probably something like, the first person who can make that stiff looking man crack wins.
She might have a problematic personality, but for Duke to remain stoic in the face of that body of hers must mean that Duke prefers someone the complete opposite of her.
If that’s the case, I know of someone who’d be perfect for making him crack. It’d be nice to see him flustered for once.
“There you have it, so please help me.”
“No way. I have no reason to seduce a complete stranger.”
When I paid a visit to the succubus shop and made the request of Loli Succubus, that was her response.
“Hah, and here I thought you could make even the most handsome hunk fall for you with your charms. Ah well, I guess it’s only natural to refuse a fight you can’t win. Sorry for asking you.”
“Please don’t think I’ll just wrap myself around you finger just because you take a few stabs at my pride.”
Oh, she’s grown.
In the past she would’ve fallen for my provocations easily and done everything I wanted her to.
… Come to think of it, why am I so fixated on that guy?
Now that I think about it, he isn’t really worth getting this serious over. I struck upon this idea back when the alcohol was coursing through my blood, but now that that’s gone, I don’t really care about it.
“Ah, fine. I am a little curious as to what that guy is up to, but nevermind. Come to think of it, Kazuma was saying something about him wanting to take Wiz as his wife.”
“Tell me more about that story!”
W-What? Why did you come this close all of a sudden?
Don’t stare at me with those glittering eyes of yours. Where did your listless attitude from before go?
“I only overheard him talking about it, but apparently he’s trying to make Wiz his wife and getting her to retire from running her shop.”
“She’s getting married!? If she retires from being a shopkeeper after married, that means that Vanir-sama will be running the store all on his own. Then he will obviously be short handed and have to hire some help. Then, I’ll be employed as the storegirl, and as we spend time together during our work, our love shall bloom… Yes, that is how it will go! That’s how it must go!”
“Y-You know, it’s really creepy when you talk to yourself like that.”
After a long time muttering under her breath, Loli Succubus suddenly raised her head.
Why is she smiling like that?
“I’ll hit on that guy for you!”
“Ah, no, I don’t really care about that anymore…”
“No, I’ll do it. Please let me do it!”
In the face of Loli Succubus’s sudden burst of enthusiasm, all I could do was silently nod.
That night, I found myself back at the tavern.
Peeking inside, I quickly spotted Duke seated at one of the tables. It seems like he’s alone this time, as usual.
“Is she not here yet? Maybe I should just head home.”
“Please don’t go home.”
She called out to me just as I was about to head home.
I frowned when I noticed the clothes she was wearing.
“Hey, what’s with those plain looking clothes? You’re going to seduce someone, you know? Wouldn’t you normally wear something more revealing that’ll make them want to jump at you?”
She’s wearing the clothes she usually wears to make her appear like an average village girl.
You would think it’d be easier if she wore the lingerie like clothing that they wear in the Succubus shop.
“You just don’t get it. According to my research, men find it easier to call out to someone more modest rather than someone who dresses skimpily.”
“Ah, I see. True, a sexily dressed woman seems like she’d be used to getting hit on, so it’s hard to make a move on her without getting drunk first.”
She might look this way, but I suppose she’s still growing as a succubus. Of course, it’d be better if her chest or butt were to grow instead.
“Are you thinking about something rude right now? That hooded person is the target, right? I see, he is quite handsome. These types of people tend to have a high evaluation of themselves. He’ll be easily hooked if I pay him a few compliments. That’s the basis of all customer service!”
Loli Succubus quickly came up with a plan.
She seems quite confident in herself. I guess I can have a little bit of confidence in her.
“Right, please use your skills to have that irksome pretty boy fall for you.”
“Eh? What are you talking about? I may be a devil, but I plan on acting like an angel today! I stand to benefit if he gets together with Wiz, after all!”
“Wait, that’s not what we-”
Loli Succubus went into the tavern before I could complete my sentence.
She then walked over to Duke’s table and sat down without even asking for his permission. She sure becomes aggressive whenever Sir Vanir is involved.
I was a little worried, so I sat down at a nearby table to observe the situation.
“Hey there, onii-chan, would you mind talking with me for a bit?”
Oh, she’s taking advantage of loli body type and attacking from a younger sister angle, huh?
She’s giving him upturned eyes while talking with a sweet voice. Seems like she’s improved her talent at acting.
Not bad. Seems like she hasn’t wasted all that time we spent talking about the finer points of erotism together.
If he was a lolicon, he would’ve fallen immediately, but…
“What are you doing? Is this how you plan on seducing… This smell and aura… Are you a lesser devil?”
“W-What are you no I’m not saying but saying.”
She took so much of a shock that she’s just speaking nonsense now.
Still, just what kind of person is he to be able to tell that she’s a succubus so quickly?
Things might end up really badly if it continues this way, it’s best that I make preparations to split.
I leaned forwards in my seat and perked up my ears.
“What is a lesser devil doing here? Did Vanir-dono put you up to this? Is he on guard now that I’ve made my intentions known!?”
Duke stood up, releasing a fearsome aura.
In the face of that, Loli Succubus shrunk back in fear.
“T-That’s not it! I thought I could help you make sure things went well with Wiz. I’m here to cheer you on!”
“You too? It seems like a lot of people are on my side for some reason. What an interesting town.”
Seems like the peril was avoided.
I leaned back into my seat and heaved a huge sigh.
“However, I do not enjoy spending time with Devils or the undead. You seem to be an acquaintance of Vanir-dono, so I’ll let you go for today. Make yourself scarce.”
Loli Succubus trudged out of the tavern, and I followed after her.
“Dust-san, just what is that person! If you knew he was someone so dangerous, you should’ve told me! I could’ve lost my life back there!”
With tears in her eyes, she repeatedly beat on my chest.
I think I recall saying something similar to Kazuma the other day.
“Isn’t he one of your kind? That immense aura of his certainly seems similar.”
“I don’t know. He knows Vanir-sama, so I thought he might be a greater devil of some kind, but he did say he hates devils and the undead, so…”
“So is he just a regular strong person? Or is he one of Vanir’s underlings? Either way, I think it’s best if we don’t get involved with him any more.”
I’m a little curious as to how the Wiz thing is going to turn out, but it’s best not to play with fire.
I’ll have Kazuma tell me how things turned out sometime later.
A few days after that, when I’ve completely forgotten about that incident, I entered Sir Vanir’s store… Only to see Wiz crying on the table.
Sir on the other hand seems to be in a jovial mood, and was restocking the shelves, ignoring Wiz entirely.
“Waaah! I’ve had enough! It’s too much! Waaaah!”
I can pretty much tell what happened, but I should probably ask about the details.
“Sir, she’s crying really badly. Did something happen? Did it have something to do with that pretty boy, Duke?”
The moment his name left my mouth, Wiz shivered and began crying even louder.
“Indeed. It’s merely a simple story where some left on the shelf woman having a misunderstanding and thinking that she’s popular, and ended up self-destructing as a result. It’s great that dark emotions are readily available every day, but her weeping is rather bothersome.”
“In other words, she thought he was proposing to her, but that wasn’t the case?”
“Even worse, the other person came to this town to defeat the incompetent shopkeeper. Do you not think it’s a perfectly miserable and hilarious conclusion? You should’ve seen it for yourself. Fuhahahaha!”
As Sir Vanir broke out into laughter, Wiz stood up behind him.
She had an expression like that of an ogre. It was an expression I never thought I would see on such a kind hearted person like her.
“T-This is bad… S-Sir, behind you! I-It’s cold! I’m freezing!”
A bone chillingly cold blast of air started coming from Wiz.
My breath immediately started creating white clouds, my body trembled in the cold, and my teeth chattered together noisily.
On one side is a former adventurer once widely feared as the Ice Witch, and on the other side is Sir Vanir whose strength I know all too well.
If they were to fight seriously, this entire store will be leveled to the ground.
“What are you up to now? It’s not yet the season where we require air conditioning. Are you perhaps trying to cool your body that has been warmed up in the throes of passion for so long? Still, you should not lower the temperature inside the store to this degree. It would be most troublesome if my prime wine were to be breezed by your freezing sneeze… Oh, right, it was already worthless! My apologies!”
“Even if it’s you, Vanir-san, there are some jokes you shouldn’t tell…”
The temperature seemed to fall even further.
This is really bad. If I stay here I’ll definitely die!
I forced my trembling body to move and somehow managed to tumble out of this deathtrap of a store.
I thought I could hear laughter and someone screaming from behind me, but I was to busy warming up my body and making it to a safe distance away to pay attention.
From that day onwards, it became taboo to talk about marriage in front of Wiz.
“–Say, what would you do if I said I was getting married?”
I was rubbing down the body of my dragon when the princess suddenly sprung that onto me.
“Princess, I’ve mentioned many times that you shouldn’t come to the stables.”
“It’s fine, so who cares? It’s not like there’s a lot of things for a princess to do anyways.”
What a willful princess.
Outside of official events, she is always this free spirited.
I’ve lost count of the number of times she sneaked out of the castle and caused an uproar. If you picture a tomboy princess, there’s probably no one more fitting than her.
“Say, you’re not thinking of something rude, are you?”
“… Of course not.”
“What’s with that pause… Ah, nevermind. Anyway, back to what I said earlier, what would you do if I got married?”
“Most likely I would be assigned as a guard for the wedding ceremony.”
As a Dragon Knight, I’ll probably be assigned to securing the place from the skies.
It seems like she wasn’t satisfied with my answer. She didn’t bother to hide her displeasure as she looked at me with skeptical eyes.
“You know that is not what I’m asking! Wouldn’t you normally say something like ‘If I was separated from my beloved princess, I would shrivel up from loneliness and die.’, right!?”
“If I was separated from my beloved princess, I would shrivel up from loneliness and die.”
“Why are you saying it in a monotone!?”
The princess angrily stomped on the ground in response to my poor attempt at appeasement.
She seemed to be frowning, but I think I can see the edges of her mouth rise a little.
A stiff and humourless dragon knight and a free spirited princess.
I don’t know if it’s because we have completely opposing personalities, but she often comes to talk with me. Sometimes it’s to consult me for aid with serious problems, but for the most part it’s simply idle chatter.
As for which category that previous question fell under… That’s not for me to speculate on. After all, I’m only the heir of an impoverished noble house-
… Again? Give me a break.
The skies visible through the narrow slit that pass for windows in the stables is speckled with stars.
So it’s already night, huh?
I recall jumping into the hay to warm my freezing body after narrowly escaping that deathtrap of a store, but I didn’t expect to fall asleep right there and then.
For some reason, my memories of that time seem to be resurfacing.
It really hurts to see what an absolute stick in the mud I was back then.
“I don’t think I’m ready for a serious development yet.”
Normally I would head out with my friends and party till the night is gone, but it feels awkward to meet with Lynn right now.
“Guess I’ll go have a drink by myself.”
I’m going to go to some small dinky out-of-the-way bar and get myself stupid drunk.
Drunk enough that I won’t have any dreams for the rest of the night.
Things have been quiet in Axel lately.
Part of the reason is that, since the Treasure Island appeared, all the adventurers in town have been busying themselves with finding ways to spend their money instead of causing trouble, but the biggest reason is that Kazuma and his party have left town.
Without the sound of an explosion going off every day, things have been quiet around here.
Lady Lalatina, who constantly causes trouble despite being the sole daughter of the Dustiness family that has taken over ruling this town after Alderp ran off, isn’t here either.
It feels a little lonely not to have Aqua liven up the tavern with her party tricks every night, but being able to enjoy a few drinks in peace and pick up girls isn’t too bad either.
The only problem is that I’m almost out of money.
“I made so much money off the Treasure Island, so how did it disappear so quickly? All I did was splurge a little, drink, and gamble…”
I complained under my breath as I walked into the guild.
The guild seemed a little quieter than usual. Also, there was a woman whom I’ve never seen before.
She was a beauty with straight, shoulder length black hair. In terms of her figure, she isn’t lacking in that department. She isn’t as filled out as Luna or Darkness, but she certainly puts Lynn to shame.
The main problem is her outfit. She wears a white priest like robe and had a mace hanging off her hip.
Combined with the gentle smile that she wears, she looks to be an ideal priest.
Her body and face are both great. In particular I like the seductive look in her eyes.
Normally I would’ve tried to hit on her by now, but… I have nothing but bad experiences when it comes to priests!
Every single priest I’ve run into have all been shot in the head in some way. That girl looks beautiful at first glance, but I won’t be fooled again!
She seemed to be looking for someone, so I gave her a wide berth as I walked into my seat.
Just then, some loud voices could be heard coming from outside the guild.
“As if.” x3
“Kazuma, whose side are you on?”
That’s definitely Kazuma’s party.
Just like I guessed, Kazuma strode into the guild, followed by the party that has become locally famous by now.
Guess it won’t be quiet in this town any longer.
Listening in on his conversation with the receptionist, it seems like he managed to take down some high bounty target and earned another fat sack of gold. I’ll have to get him to treat me sometime soon.
Just then, the female priest walked over to Kazuma.
“Umm… Could you be Satou Kazuma-sama?”
Was she looking for Kazuma?
“I have heard a lot about you… I’ve been awaiting your arrival. My name is Serena… I hope this is not too sudden, but is there any chance you’re willing to let me join your party?”
After seeing this completely unexpected development, everyone in the guild, me included, fell completely silent.
What is that priest saying?
True, Kazuma’s party does have a lot of accomplishments under their belt, but no one in this town is insane enough to willingly join that party.
It’s not just us who were taken aback, even Kazuma and his party couldn’t believe it and started suspecting that she might be up to something else.
Aqua in particular seems especially angry. Is she worried about losing her place in the party?
In the end, Kazuma refused her, and the female priest, Serena, left.
That woman smells particularly fishy.
At first glance, she seems just like some outsider who mistook Kazuma’s accomplishments for his ability, but something in my gut is telling me to be wary of her. It’s best to keep a close eye on her for now.
The next day, while I was having a meal with Lynn, Serena appeared in the guild again.
“I don’t think I’ve seen that priest around before.”
“She asked Kazuma if she could join their party yesterday.”
“… You’re joking, right?”
Well, that reaction is just to be expected.
“I do think Kazuma is really skilled as a leader, but, well, the other three… She must be really brave to want to join a party like that.”
Kazuma’s were already famous as a party of troublemakers, but we know exactly how troublesome they are after closely observing them in Elroad.
If Serena was just ignorant of that, I wouldn’t have paid her too much attention, but she seems to be gathering adventurers around a corner of the guild for some reason.
“Now then, will all adventurers who are heading out on an extermination quest please line up here? I’ll be casting a long-duration support buff on you…”
The adventurers who heard that got into a queue without a fuss.
It’s rare for a party to have a priest amongst their members, so to parties like us, getting a support buff is greatly appreciated.
“Eeh, she does seem like a proper priest, doesn’t she? I kinda want to invite her along the next time we go on a quest. Do you know what sect she’s from?”
“… Well, she’s definitely not part of the Axis Cult.”
It goes without saying that the Axis Cult would never do something like this for free, and even if they do use magic, they would definitely go “Praise me more” or “Join the cult” or “Donate some money to the cult”, and the like.
Serena hasn’t done anything like that so far, so I can say for certain that she isn’t an Axis Cultist.
She could be said to be the ideal priest that most people have in their heads… That’s exactly why she’s fishy.
Just as I was looking at her with suspicion, Kazuma and his party entered the guild.
Almost immediately, Aqua started picking a fight with that priest, but was easily out-reasoned and soon backed down.
“… I don’t like this.”
I said in a voice just loud enough to be overheard by Kazuma and his party.
“I don’t like this… I’ve never seen such a priest-like priest before… The others might have fallen for your wiles with a simple support spell, but you can’t fool me that easily. As far as abilities go, Aqua onee-san who revived me before should have the upper hand. I stand on her side… I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all…”
There’s no way such a pure hearted person could exist in this world.
Especially priests who constantly try to push some strange recruitment form to you, complain about the Eris church, and spend all day lazing about in casinos and taverns!
All the priest I met behaved that way! So there’s no way a proper priestly person could act like a priest!
… Hmm? I felt like I thought something that didn’t make sense just now…
Before I could pursue that line of thought, one of the guild staff shouted out towards us.
“All adventurers, I hope you’ll work hard on the extermination quests today! Now then, today’s situation is somewhat different…”
That’s odd. Normally this would be about the time the guild staff started putting up quest notices on the board, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone doing that right now.
Instead, they took out a piece of paper and continued speaking.
“The truth is, last night, a large outbreak of undead appeared near the public cemetery, so we would like you all to focus on exterminating them today. It’s fairly close to the town, so there’s no telling when the citizens will be threatened. In particular, we request all priests to please take part in this extermination.”
A large outbreak of undead?
We don’t have a single priest in our party, but Kazuma does have an exceptional one. Only when it comes to her abilities, mind.
With that in mind, I looked towards Aqua. For some reason, Kazuma, Darkness, and Megumin were staring at her too.
“What? Why is everyone looking at me like that!? I properly purify the graveyard every week! I didn’t slack off this time!”
“… Didn’t you slack off before?…”
Kazuma said with an exasperated tone, and Aqua furiously denied.
Could it be that she did something to create this incident?
“Hey, don’t look at me like that! I properly did my work this time! It’s not a lie! Fine, just you wait! I’ll show you what an Archpriest can really do! Just me alone is enough to deal with Zombies and Skeletons!”
Aqua loudly boasted.
However, it is true. With her skills, she’d be able to take care of it in an instant.
Seems like this would be an easy job.
Just like the guild staff reported, there was a horde of zombies at the cemetery.
After confirming their numbers, all the adventurers present, me included, frowned.
There must be a hundred, no, over two hundred of them out there. This is the first time I’ve seen so many zombies. I anticipated their grotesque appearances, so that didn’t bother me too much, but there is another, more pressing problem.
“It stinks! The stench you get when you bring so many zombies together really is something. I haven’t taken a bath for three days, but I don’t think anyone can notice that in this stench.”
“Dust, don’t come any closer. I can smell the stench of your hair just by standing here. Oh, hey, that zombie’s body looks pretty good. Isn’t she your type?”
Lynn said, pinching her nose while looking at Keith and me.
“She’s missing half of her chest! Don’t think I’ll go for anything just because it’s a girl! And my type is someone whose face isn’t rotten!”
“Wait, hold on a minute, Dust. If she was revived… wouldn’t she look pretty hot?”
“Keith, you are… a genius! Maybe I could go talk to Kazuma about it later.”
Lynn interrupted the serious conversation I was having with Keith.
I was talking in order to distract myself, but the stench is starting to become too much for me to handle.
“Dammit, the stench is making my eyes water!… Crap, I think I can feel my breakfast trying to crawl out of my stomach.”
“Hold it back, Keith. Still, how did such a large band of undead appear without anyone noticing? Just what is the groundskeeper doing?”
Every one of my party members is regretting choosing to take part in the extermination quest.
Zombies are slow and sluggish, so they are usually treated as fodder monsters. However, when so many of them are gathered in one place, their very existence is a powerful weapon.
The awful stench is making everyone present gag.
“Let’s just have Aqua-san purify all of them and head back.”
“That’s just passing all the work to her. But, well, I’m not brave enough to charge into that mob, so if guess we’ll have to leave it to her this time.”
All of us looked towards Aqua, only to see Darkness clinging onto the Explosion girl who seemed to be excited after seeing the horde of zombies.
She probably tried to fire an Explosion into them. Not only would that level the graveyard, it would also send rotten meat flying all over the place and turn this entire region into a stinking mess.
Kazuma seems to understand that too, as he drags Aqua closer to the horde.
“Right, let’s blast the zombies that look like they’d get in the way with magic. Even if it is an easy job, we have to put in at least a little bit of work.”
Being able to eat without working is fine and all, but I have to burn off some calories from time to time too.
“Yeah. I’d feel bad if I don’t at least do that much.”
“Leave the defence to me. That’s what a Crusader is meant to do, after all.”
“Right, I’ll send a few arrows their way too.”
The other adventurers too sent some support to cover Kazuma and Aqua.
Everything else aside, Aqua’s abilities as a priest is top notch. Just as that thought crossed my mind, the voice I’ve been waiting for echoed through the graveyard.
The entire graveyard was covered in a bright light.
I couldn’t help but be impressed with the wide area of effect of her spell.
“Guess that’s it then. Talk about anticlimactic… hmm? Hey, the zombies look completely fine. If anything they look more energetic than ever. ”
When the light disappeared, the zombies that were covered by it still remained active.
“W-What’s the meaning of this? Was that part of the plan?”
With that in mind, I looked over to those two.
“HAAAAAH!? Aqua, isn’t dealing with undead is your only strong point!? D-Do something about this!”
“This is strange! This is really strange! Huh? These guys might not be undead after all! I’ve never seen red-eyed zombies before! And, wait, Kazuma, why are you distancing yourself from me!? Aren’t we party members? Aren’t we friends!?”
Did her spell really not work? Then now isn’t the time to stand by idly.
The people around me were starting to panic as realization dawned upon them.
Everyone was under the impression that things would turn out fine if Aqua was here, but it’s a completely different story if her spell didn’t work. In a battle against this many zombies, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a few fatalities were to occur.
Just before the first of the zombies got into melee range, Serena strode to the front.
Despite the situation, she alone remained calm and pointed towards the horde.
With those words, a strong wind picked up and blew forth from Serena’s outstretched hand.
When it blew over the horde, the zombies that were completely unaffected by Aqua’s spell collapsed like inert puppets one after the other.
Did Serena wipe out the entire horde with a single spell?
I’m glad that the extermination quest is over and done with, but somehow I can’t bring myself to be completely happy over how things ended up.
The moment we made it back to the guild, the air became busy with the sound of invitations. It seems like every single party wanted to get Serena to join up with them.
However, it seems like she’s dead set on joining Kazuma’s party, and rejected all such invitations.
“Hey, aren’t you going to invite her? Normally you’d be first in line.”
Lynn gave me a suspicious look.
Seems like she still has a lot to learn about me.
“Hah? I mentioned it when Aqua came up, but I just don’t like priestly behaviour or anything of that sort.”
“That doesn’t sound right. Weren’t you always going on about wanting a priest in the party?”
“If we get someone like that in our party, it’d be too stifling for me to even breathe. I’d rather have someone easier to get along with.”
I’m fine with her as far as appearance goes, but the problem is the personality.
“If that’s the case, perhaps an Axis Cult priest would be more fitting?”
“… Please don’t joke about that.”
At Taylor’s words, I glanced over to the blue haired priest hanging by Kazuma’s side.
“Now, now, I’ll throw this pinecone into that cup on the table. Then, from the cup…”
She’s trying to pull of some party trick.
… An Axis Cult priest, huh? Nah.
However, that woman doesn’t sit well with me. She’s pretending to be charitable, but I bet she’ll say something like ‘I defeated all the zombies, so I should have the entire bounty to myself.’
Just then, I overheard the conversation Serena was having with another adventurer.
“ーStill, is this really okay, Serena-san? This extermination was pretty much handled entirely by you alone, so giving up all of the rewards to spread amongst ourselves…”
“I’m a woman of the cloth. As long as I have enough to pay for food and shelter, that’s more than enough.”
Serena said with a smile.
“… I was wrong about her.”
“Eh? What did you just say?”
I got up and walked over to Serena.
“I thought you were different from the moment I laid eyes on you! Unlike a certain disappointing Archpriest, you truly are a wonderful person! Especially how you don’t lust after money!”
My wallet is feeling really empty right now. Anyone who is willing to increase the amount of gold coming my way is my friend.
What a great person. Yeah, this is what a priest should be like!