A Full Stomach for that Hungry Little Girl (Part 2/2)
“–Seems like she’s sleeping well.”
I stroked the body of Faitfore who was laying beside me.
She was terribly on edge back when I first met her, but at her core, she really is a gentle soul.
It’s really a relief to see her sleeping so soundly like this.
“It feels like we are just making use of her. My heart does hurt a little, but this is all for the sake of the princess.”
I muttered such excuses in part to convince myself.
Ever since I rescued Faitfore, I’ve been taking care of her. I ran into a lot of problems at first, but after spending so much time together, we are practically inseparable now.
Currently, she’s the most important thing in my life, second only to the princess.
Speaking of which, recently, the princess has been pestering me to give her a ride on the dragon.
I’ve always rejected her because there’s no way I could do something like that without permission from the king.
Even though she understands this very well, she still constantly pesters me to give her a ride.
Especially recently, she makes that request almost every day… I know why she’s asking this, but considering my position, there’s no way I can grant that request. All I can do is feign ignorance and continue with my daily life.
“Marriage, huh? As a princess of a country, it’s only natural to have a fiance arranged for you. It’s only natural.”
I can only protect her as a knight–
I shook my head to clear the fogginess of sleep.
… That dream was probably because of Faitfore’s influence.
“Alright then, time to earn some money.”
Sleeping next to me in the stables is, of course, Faitfore.
Even though my companions and several of the adventurers in the guild offered to pay for a room for her, she rejected all of them and joined me in the stables instead.
If she was a beautiful lady, I’d be elated, but this isn’t good.
“If someone were to walk in on us right now, it’ll only create more misunderstandings.”
Having one person in this town branded as a lolicon is enough for me. If such a rumour were to spread, it’d make approaching women even harder.
After waking up Faitfore, we went to the guild only to be greeted by a strangely quiet guild hall.
The quest notices are usually placed on the noticeboard early in the morning, so there’d usually be a bunch of early birds gathered here hoping to grab a juicy quest before anyone else. I’ve seen several of their kind show up on those occasions when I drank till morning.
“Dust, there you are.”
Lynn, who had disappeared without a trace last night, called out to me.
“Stay still for a bit.”
“Hey, wait, what are you doing? What is this rope? What are you planning? Don’t just silently start tying me up!”
After wordlessly tying a harness around my waist, she stood back with a satisfied look on her face.
No, really, what are you planning?
“Heh, it suits you pretty well, this piggyback rope.”
Hey, wait, why did you snicker while saying that?
“Piggyback rope? What do you mean?”
“It’d be faster to show you. Faitfore-chan, come over here. Ow, stop biting my hands!”
Faitfore bared her teeth at Lynn, causing her to shy back.
These two really don’t get along.
“Come on, just behave yourself! Stop biting me already! See, like this, you can be together with Dust, right?”
After a short struggle, Lynn lifted Faitfore onto my back.
Even though she didn’t cling onto me, it doesn’t feel like she’s going to fall anytime soon.
“With this, you can make use of both hands while she’s on your back. And it’d lessen the load on you too. Though, it might be a little heavy.”
“No, this weight isn’t a problem. Thanks, Lynn. Come on, you should say thank you too.”
“Ngggh… Thank you, bad girl.”
She is a little reluctant, but she still gave her thanks. Lynn responded with a wry smile.
The weight of Faitfore on my back is nothing compared to the full body heavy armour I used to wear.
I’m a little concerned over how lame this harness made me look, but oh well, I guess it’s just the cost of doing business.
“Taylor and Keith aren’t here yet? And here I woke up early for them.”
“Ah, about those two, apparently something suddenly came up for them, so they won’t be joining us.”
“Whaaaat!? Didn’t we make a promise yesterday? Leaving Keith aside, what could possibly crop up for Taylor too to break a promise?”
“I tried to ask them for the reason too, but they wouldn’t tell me anything.”
Keith is fairly flippant, so it isn’t unexpected for him to flake out like this, but it’s unthinkable for that hardheaded Taylor to also follow suit.
For the two of them to pull out together, maybe they are up to something? I’ll ask them if I run into them.
“So, what are we going to do? It’s going to be pretty tough taking on quests with just the two of us.”
Depending on the type of quest, it might be possible for just two people to handle it, but Lynn will definitely object on the grounds of it being too dangerous.
In that case, perhaps we should just accept a little bit of risk and just send someone out alone to complete the quest?
“Don’t worry, I managed to secure a few helpers earlier.”
Almost like they rehearsed this, two people walked up behind Lynn.
“S-Sorry for intruding! I’m hope that you’ll allow me to join you and your party on an adventure-”
“Oh, get used to it already. Thanks for the greeting gift.”
The girl who nervously gave such a stuffy greeting to us is, of course, the loner Crimson Demon, Yunyun.
We’ve been together in the same party several times now, but it seems like she’s still unused to being in a group.
“You look like a hapless dad carrying an infant daughter around. It suits you well.”
And on the complete opposite end from Yunyun’s uptight nervousness is Loli Succubus.
I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of her recently.
“You didn’t need to say that, but I’m thankful for your help. I’ll go see what quests are available, so wait here for a bit.”
Browsing the notices put up on the noticeboard, I noticed that most of them tend to involve hunting down monsters. There were almost no requests for safe chores.
Luna happened to be passing by at the moment, so I called out to her.
“Say, Luna, aren’t the quests available a little biased today?”
Luna seemed taken aback for a bit upon seeing Faitfore on my back, but she took a deep breath and composed herself.
“So you’ve noticed? The adventurers haven’t been taking very many quests recently. In fact, most of them have stopped coming to the guild altogether.”
Luna said with a sigh. Just as she said, there are very few adventurers in the guild today.
“Where did they go?”
“Apparently, they’ve been hanging around the priest who came to the town a few days ago. She’s been offering to cast support magic at no cost to the other adventurers, so she’s been really popular… Are men really such simple creatures that they’ll fall for any girl that is graceful, beautiful, and kind!?”
“If a girl has all three traits, it’s only natural for her to be popular. Why are you crying!?”
Luna suddenly clung onto me. I quite enjoy the sensation of her breasts pushing against me, but seeing such a desperate woman is a little scary.
“Don’t you think that’s odd!? Having men fall so easily for her is really odd! I really want her to teach me some of her techniques!”
“Then stop grumbling behind her back and go ask the person in question!”
I knew she was popular, but I didn’t expect her to be this well loved.
When talk of priests come up, I can’t help but be reminded of the ball of troubles that is Aqua, but Serena seems like the proper sort. Especially how she doesn’t seem attached to money.
I had my hands full with Faitfore, so I didn’t have time to pay attention to the changes in the guild.
“I understand why the guys are all infatuated with her. She has both bountiful breasts and hips-Grah, my neck! Stop strangling me! I get it, I get it! More importantly, let’s talk about the quests!”
Perhaps being grumpy because she’s hungry, Faitfore started strangling me from behind.
“You will accept a quest!? With our current situation, our quests are piling up and we are having a real headache over it. Thank you! I’ll give you an additional 30 percent on top of the regular quest rewards and allow you to eat for free too!”
She must have been really troubled to offer such generous terms.
The party I’m working with today is mostly comprised of mages, so we won’t be lacking when it comes to firepower. Depending on what monster we are hunting, we might be able to pull it off.
I picked several quests that sounded reasonable and left the guild along with Lynn and the others.
So far, the subjugation quests have been going smoothly.
I’m performing the role of the vanguard, as usual, but whenever we run into a monster, the others will let loose their magic out of concern for Faitfore, and everything will be over before I get the chance to do anything.
We’ve already cleared three quests, and it seems like the remaining two will be done in a jiffy at this rate.
“Having things go so smoothly is actually kind of scary, don’t you think?”
“What’s there to worry about? If you keep concerning yourself with every little thing, you’ll get old real fast, you know?”
“Leave the monsters to me. I won’t let them lay a finger on Faitfore-chan!”
“Yunyun-senpai, you seem really reliable!”
Yunyun wiped out the enemies before I could attract their attention. In the event where several monsters would attack from different directions, Lynn would blast them aside, or Loli Succubus would stop them in their tracks.
It’s a weirdly balanced party, but a party of three mages seem to be working out pretty well.
“Hmm? My shoulder feels wet for some reason… Hey, you’re drooling!”
“That looks tasty.”
Faitfore was looking at the body of the giant frog that we just defeated with a hungry look in her eyes.
“Yunyun, can you roast that giant frog over there?”
“Sure, I can, but what are you planning on doing?”
“It’s this little lady’s mealtime. If I keep putting it off for any longer, I’m going to be absolutely covered in drool. Though if someone else were to take over carrying her for a while, I don’t mind.”
When I extended my drool covered hand towards Yunyun, she immediately jumped away.
“Eeek, don’t get close to me. I have really bad memories when it comes to gooey stuff! I’ll get it roasted in a jiffy!”
Immediately after the frog has been roasted, Faitfore practically pounced on it.
We did cut a few pieces off for everyone else, but it seems like most of it will be devoured by Faitfore.
A large boom echoed from the distance, followed by a pillar of smoke. Seems like that crazy girl is out on her explosion walk.
It’s an everyday occurrence, so anyone who had lived in this town for any amount of time would’ve gotten used to it by now.
“Just looking at her eat makes me feel full.”
“Yeah, you wouldn’t want to get fat- Hey, stop attacking me out of the blue!”
“If you stop saying such stupid things, I might consider it.”
It was only a little joke. You didn’t need to start blasting me.
“Still, it’s really good that you two happened to be in the guild just then. Otherwise we would’ve been really in trouble.”
“It’s not a coincidence. I’ve been worried about Faitfore, so I’ve been keeping an eye on you. She doesn’t seem like just an acquaintance, so how do the two of you know each other?”
“I’m really curious as to exactly what relationship the two of you have. Don’t worry, even if it’s a forbidden romance that transcends age, I’ll be fine with it. So, what exactly is the relationship between you two?”
Yunyun and Loli Succubus asked me with eyes brimming with curiosity.
Everyone’s interested in that. Is it really that unusual?
Lynn kept silent, probably because of what happened yesterday. However, despite her trying to put on an air of indifference, I can tell she’s listening intently.
In situations like this, it’s easier to spin a believable lie if you base it on a kernel of truth.
“In the past, I happened to run across her while she was being kidnapped by some villains, so I helped her out. Ever since then, she’s been quite taken with me.”
“That situation is something that every girl admires! If someone as young as her were to go through such an experience, it would be easy to develop some misunderstandings. I think I understand what happened now.”
“A captured princess scenario, huh… Seems like there might be a demand for it…”
I really want to respond to what Yunyun said, but whatever.
Lynn heard a similar story yesterday, so she doesn’t seem to react much.
“Dust-san, I’ve been curious for some time now, but what did you do before coming to Axel?”
The moment that question left Yunyun’s mouth, Lynn drew closer to us, all the while still acting disinterested.
“I’m curious too! You’re usually scummy and unscrupulous and an utterly lost cause, but you can demonstrate proper courtesy at times. And you know a lot about nobility and royalty too.”
Did I ever talk to her about nobles or royalty before?
No, wait, wasn’t that…I gave her some tips about how to act like a noble or princess back when I was drunk, didn’t I?
Seems like I told her a little more than I should.
“Ah, about that. You see… Ah, wait, now is not the time for that!”
Before I noticed it, we were surrounded by countless monsters.
“What’s with their abnormal numbers!?”
“And there are all off different types too! We aren’t that far from Axel!”
“Wait, don’t tell me, are these monsters all startled by the explosion earlier and came running this way?”
So it’s that damned explosion girl’s fault!
Did all the monsters that have been proliferating because of the lack of adventurers come charging out here?
“Faitfore, come over here! Quickly!”
I didn’t even have the luxury to comment on how she’s already picked the giant frog to the bone.
With one hand on the piggyback rope, and the other on my weapon, I tried searching for an escape route, but we were completely surrounded.
“Yunyun, take care of the enemies behind us! Lynn, Lolisa, hold off the monsters on the left and right! I’ll handle the ones straight ahead!”
“That’s where most of the monsters are! That girl is with you too, so don’t push yourself!”
“I can’t afford not to push myself with her present. If you are worried, then hurry up and take care of your end.”
We didn’t have the time for any further discussion, so, with sword in hand, I started taking care of the monsters.
A small horde of goblins and kobolds are facing me. Those two types of monsters don’t normally work together. They must have bolted in the same direction after being startled by that explosion.
“Sorry, I’m a little busy right now. If you have something to say, please save it for later.”
“You aren’t going to use a spear?”
“… Well, a lot of things happened…”
Oh, yeah, I’ve always used a spear in front of her. If I had a spear on hand right now, I would’ve happily made use of it, but there’s no use pining for weapons I don’t have.
As I was thinking of such things, the monsters started launching their attacks.
“Uwoah, that was close!”
I dodged that attack and retaliated with a slash of my own, easily cleaving a goblin in two.
Keeping that momentum, I easily separated the head of a nearby kobold from it’s shoulders.
… They might be small fry monsters, but aren’t they a little too weak?
Even their attacks are slow and easily dodged.
“Seems like you are in tip top condition today.”
Lynn’s voice called out from behind me.
So it isn’t that they are weak, but I’m just doing really well today.
“Dust, leave it to me.”
A slightly prideful voice came from my shoulder.
“… Yeah, with you here, there’s no way I can lose!”
With that, I charged straight into the horde of monsters.
After a tough fight, I managed to wipe out the monsters facing me relatively quickly, and so moved on to help Lynn and the others.
After some time, we managed to wipe out most of the monsters present and put the rest to flight.
“*Pant, pant*... I feel like I’ve worked more than enough for my entire life. I can take the rest of my life easy, right?”
“I-I’m done. I’m completely out of mana.”
“Sorry, I’ve used up all of my magic.”
“If I go any further, I won’t be able to work tonight~”
Seems like everyone has reached their limit.
To think the effects of the adventurers slacking on their work would show up here. It’d be nice if the monsters would lie low for a while after this.
Barely forcing our exhausted bodies to move, we somehow managed to drag ourselves back to the guild.
I wanted to have a meal and rest my body, but there’s a more important matter that I have to attend to first. Seeing Luna over at the counter, I walked over to her with Faitfore in tow.
“I’m back. The quest is completed, so hand over the money.”
“Thank you for your hard work. Yes, the request has indeed been completed. Please take this with you.”
Checking the bag of money that Luna passed to me… I found there to be a little more than I expected.
It’s not often that Luna makes such a mistake, but I think I’ll keep that to myself this time.
I tried to leave, but someone grabbed my arm.
“What are you doing, Luna?”
“That pouch contains the advance fee for yet another quest. Another troublesome matter has cropped up, so I would like to request your cooperation.”
She’s looking at me with her usual smiling face, but there’s something else hiding behind that expression this time.
I have a really bad feeling about this, so I think I’ll refuse.
“Say, can I refuse this request? Why don’t you ask Kazuma for help instead? He’s used to dealing with troublesome matters, after all.”
He’s a man that deals with his troublesome companions day in and out. If you have a troublesome matter on hand, he’d be the first guy to ask.
“Kazuma-san seems to be busy with some other matter, so the only adventurers I can rely on is you and your party. Resolving this matter would also reduce the load on you, so please lend me a hand.”
Her words are delivered in a gentle tone, but the sounds of her fingers tightening their grip on my arm is clearly audible. She doesn’t seem like she has any intention of letting me go.
“Okay, fine, I’ll hear you out! But that doesn’t mean I accept just yet!”
“Thank you very much. The truth is, there are a lot of adventurers who’ve been acting strangely throughout town recently. We’ve gotten a lot of complaints from the residents too.”
I was planning to tune it out after listening for a little bit, but that does pique my curiosity.
“Strange as in, how strange?”
“Apart from the adventurers who are doggedly following Serena-san around, there are also some who have been running around rampaging and shouting strange things and generally acting strange. A few of them have even been arrested and thrown into prison.”
“What’s that? Isn’t that just typical drunken revelry? Come nightfall, guys like that are a common sight around bars and taverns.”
The folks around here practically throw a drunken party every night.
It isn’t strange to see people drink themselves into a stupor.
“Well, it’d be one thing if they kept their actions to the bars and taverns at night, but these people have been running wild even in the middle of the day. The adventurer’s guild can’t simply ignore the problem. And we are already short handed as it is.”
“Well, that is strange. Is there anything in common amongst those who got arrested?”
“Hmm, I can’t say much about that. Oh, by the way, the one who happened to stop these people rampaging around was Vanir-san.”
“Sir, huh? Right, I’ll go pay him a visit later.”
If I’m paying Sir Vanir a visit, I best take them along too.
If I go to see him behind her back, she’d give me an earful later.
Before heading to Sir Vanir’s place, I got a more detailed story from a few eyewitnesses.
Lynn is as uncomfortable with Sir as ever, so she decided to wait for us back at the guild instead of coming along.
According to the information I gathered, the people who have been acting strangely consists of not just adventurers, but regular residents of the town too.
“Err, the symptoms appear to be losing their sense of reason, going on rampages, and shouting in random directions.”
Yunyun, as expected, came along, a notepad in her hand.
Apparently, she’s been reading a lot of detective stories recently and seems to be in the mood to play detective herself.
“Rather than getting drunk, this sounds more like some kind of hallucination. Perhaps it might even be a curse of some sort.”
The other person who came along, Loli Succubus, is well versed with mind affecting magic, so it seems like that expertise allowed her to make some kind of connection.
Plus, a devil would have some knowledge when it comes to curses. We might be on the right track here.
“So, either some bored mage is running around casting spells for fun, or it’s some kind of spreading curse. Someone who’d cast spells indiscriminately within the town of Axel… that does remind me of someone, but she only knows that one spell.”
I glanced at Yunyun, who shrank away in embarrassment as though we were talking about her herself.
“So that leaves a curse. We should probably visit a church about that. The Axis Cult church is closer, but… let’s go to the Eris church instead.”
Everyone nodded in agreement
There’s no need for discussion. I know full well that nothing good comes out of getting involved with the Axis Cult.
As we drew closer to the building, Loli Succubus stopped following us. It seems like she doesn’t intend on going any closer.
Well, both the Axis Cult and the Eris Church are famous in their dislike for devils, after all.
I knocked on the door, and a short while later, a woman wearing priestly robes opened it.
“Is something the matter… ah, everyone, come quick! That incorrigible thug has come here to repent!”
“There’s no need to shout…Aaaaah! He’s the one who insulted Eris-sama!”
The moment they saw my face, she raised a scream and the other priests came at me with fist swinging.
“What are you doing!? You sure have guts to assault an upstanding citizen for absolutely no reason!”
“Who are you calling an upstanding citizen!? I won’t let you say you forgot about those blasphemous words!”
What has gotten them so angry? They were saying something about blasphemy or whatever, but I have no recollection of that at all.
“Hey, come on, it isn’t good for priests to make false accusations.”
“This man, have you really forgotten? You’re lying, right?”
“Hold on a minute, I’ll try and remember. Ah, you’re angry about the time I took multiple bowls of porridge back when I was broke and complained about the taste, right? Or are you angry about the time I told that head priest to make me the patron of the church because I met the goddess Eris first hand?”
“Dust, you really are…”
Yunyun shot me a gaze of pure scorn.
Now is not the time for that.
“… That’s not all you’ve done, right?”
“The guy who teased you about how the devotion of an Eris priest is inversely proportional to the size of their chest is Keith, not me.”
“… The one who hit you back then was Maris, not me. There is more, right?”
The fact that she replied with a smile somehow made her seem even more fearsome.
Was there anything else? Nothing’s really coming to mind.
“Nope, that’s pretty much it.”
“Back when Darkness-sama was with me, you said ‘I’ve heard rumours that the goddess Eris pads her chest. For a follower of Eris to have such huge knockers, aren’t you afraid that she’ll excommunicate you? In the first place, are those real? You two aren’t padding your chests, are you? If they are real, then strip and show me the proof right here.’ I won’t let you say you forgot about that.”
She went out of her way to imitate my voice and mannerisms, but that isn’t ringing any bells.
“Did something like that happen?”
I tilted my head in confusion, and she aimed a straight right at my face.
“Hey, aren’t you a priest!? How could you resort to violence!?”
“People who encroach on the dignity of women and Eris-sama are existences on the same level as undead!”
“Hey, resorting to violence with this many people on your side is unfair! Should women of the cloth really be using violence in front of a child this young? Take a good look at her innocent eyes… Yunyun? Hey, don’t take Faitfore away!”
Looking back, Yunyun was carrying Faitfore away to join Loli Succubus.
I, on the other hand, was completely surrounded with Eris Cultists.
“Why don’t we talk things out calmly? Goddess Eris wouldn’t look kindly on unnecessary fighting, you know?”
“Shut up!” x4
“Dammit, they beat me black and blue and tossed me out without offering me even a single casting of Heal. Unbelievable.”
Despite being priests, they ignored me as I lay on the ground and went back into the church.
As I dragged myself up to my feet, Yunyun and Loli Succubus, who had been keeping watch from afar, came over.
These guys are pretty heartless too.
“It’s all your fault that they wouldn’t listen to us.”
“I’m surprised that you managed to make an enemy of the Eris Church.”
Yunyun seemed exasperated, Loli Succubus seemed vaguely impressed, and Faitfore got up on my back and started strapping herself in. She seems to think that is her rightful place.
“Right then, the question is, do we pay a visit to the Axis Cult or ignore it and move on. Let’s take a vote on this. Anyone who is in favour of visiting the Axis Cult, raise your hand.”
Not a single person raised their hand, so we decided to go to Sir’s place.
“Vanir-sama, is there anything I can do for you?”
“Sir, there’s something I would like to ask you.”
When I opened the door of the Magic item shop, a sweet scent flooded my nostrils.
And Wiz, the storekeeper, is collapsed in a charred heap on the floor, but I’m used to that by now.
“Hmph, if you intend to help, you can start by throwing out the trash.”
“Okay, can do. Hm~hmhm~”
Loli Succubus hummed a tune as she dragged Wiz off somewhere with practiced motions.
“Lonerinquent are here too, huh? Moi is a little busy right now. If you’re here to window shop, please come back later.”
“Lonerinquent!? Please stop lumping me together with Dust-san!”
Sir, you sure say some good things every so often.
“By the way, what this Wiz do this time?”
“Just thinking about it gives me conniptions. This garbage storekeeper mistook the large quantities of mandrakes Moi ordered as potion ingredients as locally sourced wild vegetables and gave them to the neighbours for free!”
“Mandragora are those rare and dangerous monsters that scream when pulled out of the ground and can cause people hearing their screams to die, right?”
“Indeed. Having them be given away for free is painful enough as is, but there is a bigger problem. Properly treated, it’s a potent medicine, but it’s dangerous if eaten as is. Moi has retrieved some of them, but there are still several of them still at large.”
It’s only natural to be angry.
Just then, I heard a growl from behind my back. Turning around, I came face to face with a snarling Faitfore.
“Dust, this man, dangerous.”
“Oh, that’s a rare thing to be carrying around on your back. To think that such a creature would appear at a place like this.”
Despite being glared at, Sir Vanir drew closer to Faitfore without the slightest hint of fear.
A snarling little girl and a smiling masked man staring at each other. To anyone passing by, this would surely be a bizarre sight.
“It’s fine, Sir is a devil and has a certain personality that means he’s not exactly an ally to humanity, but he’s not hostile. So, calm down.”
“… If you say so.”
She still looks like she’s ready to jump out at any moment, but appears to be restraining herself for now.
Still, I’m impressed that Faitfore managed to see through Sir with just a glance.
“Sorry to bother you while you’re busy, but Sir, can I ask you for more details about those rampaging adventurers that you stopped the other day?”
“That incident? Moi ran across a strange man who was screaming and running wild while working to recover the mandrakes, so Moi defeated him.”
So he ran across him by chance, huh? Doesn’t seem like I can expect much solid information from him, then.
“Well, those symptoms are similar to what happens when you eat a mandrake, but it’s a small matter.”
“Oh, is that so? … Hey, wait a minute, Sir, doesn’t that mean it’s definitely the result of eating a mandrake?”
And we stumbled onto the source of the problem.
With this, the quest is complete… is what I would like to say, but…
“By the way, how many mandrakes are you still missing?”
“Hmm, from what has been told, there seemed to have been a few unrestrained fools who showed up and took large quantities of mandrakes with them during the giveaway. The remaining pieces are most likely with those people. However, they might prove to be a little troublesome.”
Sir doesn’t declare someone to be troublesome lightly. I was hoping that this matter would be easily resolved, but that seems increasingly unlikely.
“Just what kind of people are we talking about for Vanir-sama to be so wary?”
“The ones who took them away are, of all people, the Axis Cult.”
Everyone present nodded at the same time.
They could be said to be the natural enemy of devils.
I would really want to avoid getting into contact with them if I can, but it seems like I’m bound to them by some weird quirk of fate.
There’s the party priest that hangs out with Kazuma, of course, but I also ran into Zesta over in Elroad that seems to be the patriarch of the entire organization.
To be honest, I really don’t want to get to know them any more than this.
“Well, haven’t you arrived at just the right time? Would you not take on the task of retrieving the mandrakes from that empty headed cult that believes in a foolish goddess? You shall be amply compensated, of course.”
“I would really like to take on a request from you, Sir, but I don’t really play well with Axis Cultists.”
“I-I don’t get along with them too.”
Loli Succubus raised a shaky hand. It seems like she’d do anything Sir Vanir asks, but even she draws the line at the Axis Cult.
“Um, did you know any specifics about the priest who took the mandrakes with them?”
“Hmph, from what has been told, she was a priest wearing Axis Cult priest robes, and said something like ‘Finally, I can eat something other than tokoroten slime.'”
Hmm? A chill went down my spine. It feels like I know that description from somewhere…
Hearing a smack from my side, I turned and saw Yunyun sitting on the ground, her head in her hands as she heaved a heavy sigh.
“What’s wrong? Did you eat some rotten food and got yourself a stomachache? You should be wary of food that smells bad. And anything that tastes sour is right out.”
“I’m not you, so I don’t need that kind of advice. That person might be someone I know. That behavior sounds very familiar… unfortunately.”
“Is that so? Then, can Moi entrust this task to you, as a friend? You are the only friend Moi can rely on during such times.”
“L-Leave it to me! I’ll never leave a friend in need!”
“So easy.” x2
Seeing Sir wrap Yunyun around his finger, the same phrase came to both Loli Succubus and I.
Well, this situation is beneficial to me too, so I think I’ll let it run its course.
I expected that we’d be heading towards that Axis Cult branch which is located on the outskirts of the town, but for some reason, Yunyun instead led us towards the mansion district where most of the ultra rich folks made their homes.
As for why I knew the Axis Cultists opened a church on the outskirts, that’s because the residents of this town warned me to stay away from there.
In particular, parents give strict warnings to their children not to play in that area, so pretty much nobody goes over there.
“So, does that priest live here? I always thought the Axis Cult had an air of poverty around them, but… Hey, you’re joking, right? This is practically a palace!”
A massive mansion sprawled out in front of me. Kazuma’s mansion is fairly spacious by itself, but doesn’t hold a candle to the stately palace in front of my eyes.
Is that stingy sounding priest really living in a place like this?
“She lives in such an opulent place, but she still scrambles for free gifts?”
Loli Succubus asked the same question that’s on my mind.
“Umm, this is the place the band… acquaintance rented to serve as a base of sorts, but before I knew it she began treating it as a residence. She probably spends more time here than she does at the church proper.”
Right now, it’s still barely past noon. Priests should be busy distributing food or recruiting or some other activity around this time. So she’s skipping work to laze about here?
“Should a priest really be doing that?… But, well, she is of the Axis Cult.”
“Yeah, it’s the Axis Cult.”
Thinking it over, this isn’t anything unexpected from the Axis Cult.
With that settled, I moved to the front door, but Loli Succubus instead took several large steps backwards.
“I’ll wait out here, so please have a nice chat with that person.”
“She’s a little strange, but she isn’t a bad person… Well, she’s probably harmless… Um, it’ll be fine. Probably.”
“Say it with more confidence. All you’re doing now is just making her sound even less trustworthy. Lolisa here doesn’t have a lot of good experiences when it comes to the Axis Cult. Well, that goes the same for me too.”
“… Neither do I. It won’t be good to force her, so, okay, Lolisa, you wait for us here… Ah.”
Yunyun let out a surprised gasp.
Following her gaze led me to a woman dressed in priestly robes. She was slowly approaching Loli Succubus with creeping hands and a suspicious glint in her eyes, but Loli Succubus doesn’t seem to have noticed her.
And then, the priest grabbed her from behind.
“I’ve found a little girl! Now, are you here to join up? Or are you here to register? Or perhaps become one of us? We have plenty of room for little girls, so don’t worry!”
“Kyaaaa! H-Help me! I’m being forced into the Axis Cult! I don’t want to be an Axis Cultist!!”
The priest clung tightly onto a struggling Loli Succubus.
I want to help her, but seeing the face of the priest gave me pause. My worst premonitions always end up coming true.
“Cecily-san, please let her go! She isn’t here to join up. And this isn’t the church.”
So her name is Cecily, huh?
I’ve run into her several times, but I think this is the first time I got her name.
“Ah, yeah, that’s right. Recently, I’ve been spending more time lazing around here than at the church, so I got mistaken. Tee-hee.”
The priest cocked her head and stuck out her tongue.
She’s one of the troublemaking Axis Cultists I ran into in Elroad.
“So, that thing is an acquaintance of yours?”
“Yes. There are some circumstances behind that, but…”
“Yunyun-san, you’re here too. Alice-san, Megumin-san, and now a new little girl is joining our group.”
“W-Wait, Cecily-san! We are supposed to keep that a secret!”
Group? And, did she just say Alice just now? Alice is the alias that the first princess of this country, Iris, uses, right?
Ah, I see. There was a time where Megumin, Alice, and Yunyun were hanging out together. If I recall, they were trying to investigate if I was the rumoured Dragon Knight back then. They must have hit it off together.
Iris probably used her royal authority to buy this mansion.
“Ooh, nice, a modest body with pink hair that just has the slightest hint of erotism. It’s right up onee-chan’s alley! Hmm? But this smell is…!”
“Let me go! Let me go! Help me, Dust-san! Dust-san!”
Loli Succubus desperately screamed. Running into the Axis Cult at Alcanretia and Elroad definitely left a deep scar on her.
Cecily paid no heed to her struggles and started sniffing Loli Succubus’s hair and shoulders, before tilting her head questioningly.
I don’t know what she’s looking for, but I think I heard Zesta mention that he can identify devils by the smell. This might be dangerous to let continue.
“Hey, pervert priest, let go of Lolisa. And, come on, there’s no need to cry.”
“T-Thank you very much. That was so scary…”
There’s no need to cry like this. I understand it’s scary, but clinging onto me while snot and tears flowed from your face like this is an overreaction.
“To think that a girl would cry because of me. Onee-chan is shocked. But seeing a girl cry does make me feel a little hot and bothered.”
Is it really okay to leave the Axis Cult to their own devices like this? She’s the very definition of a pervert.
“Please don’t egg her on! Anyway, we aren’t here to talk about such matters. Cecily-san, did you come into a lot of vegetables recently?”
If she knows that those vegetables are actually mandrakes, there’s a high chance she might try to resell them for profit or use them for some other ill deed, so we decided to act as though they were just simple vegetables.
Actually, if things went badly enough, Vanir and Wiz might end up getting brought in as accomplices to a crime.
“Ah, are you talking about that? A woman who reeked of poverty was handing out vegetables, saying that she took in too many of them, so I loaded up on as many of them as I could carry and carted them off. What about them? They are already all gone, so don’t ask me to return them now.”
“Eh? So quickly? Um, what did you do with all those vegetables?”
“Well, you see, I wanted to eat them, but they looked so much like miniature humans that they turned me off. So I distributed them as food aid. You know about that suspicious priest that recently appeared in this town and is rapidly gaining new followers, right? So, to fight against her influence, I decided to imitate the Eris Church a little and started handing out food just like them.”
“Don’t give food that you can’t bring yourself to eat as aid!”
“Eh? I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You understand me perfectly! I didn’t say anything particularly complex!”
Yeah, I just plain don’t get along with the Axis Cult. Especially if it’s this girl or Zesta, just talking to them tires me out.
“But we tasted it. Even the members who usually have all kinds of snide remarks to make end up enjoying it so much that they jump for joy and slam their heads against the walls.”
“… Where do I start?”
Loli Succubus, hiding behind me, muttered under her breath.
She is still brave enough to interject even after being scared senseless, huh?
Anyway, it’s clear exactly why those guys are acting up.
“Do you have any of those vegetables left?”
“Hmm? Say, did we meet somewhere before?”
“Do you still not remember my face? We met back in Elroad, remember?”
“Ah, did we? Only handsome men and cute girls remain in my memory, so I completely forgot about it. But, it’s fine now. I’ll never forget someone carrying a cute silver haired girl on his back.”
This woman is only looking at my back. Anything goes for her as long as it’s small and cute, huh?
Perhaps sensing danger from the gaze she’s receiving, Faitfore tightened her grip on my shoulder.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you go in front of her. I’ll definitely protect you.”
“Protect me too! Why are you only kind to Faitfore? Favouritism like this isn’t good, you know?”
Loli Succubus too had a tight grip on my waist and refused to budge an inch.
“Anyway, back to the original topic, you are certain you don’t have any more of those vegetables on hand, right?”
“Y-Yes, of course. They have all been used up, so, even in the one-in-a-million chance that something happened, there won’t be any proof left. I have no involvement in this matter at all, I’m innocent!”
“You… You know what’s going on in town, don’t you?”
… Her behaviour is suspicious as all hell.
She’s definitely aware of what she has done. The way she constantly glances away and fiddles with her fingers can’t be described as anything other than suspicious.
“I, I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m a devout worshipper of Aqua, so I need to go pray right now. Now, please pardon me–”
“Cecily-san, I buried those strange herbs in the forest like you told me to. Now, about the payment we agreed upon-”
The person who interrupted was a middle aged man pulling an empty cart behind him. From the bandages wrapped around his head, he’s probably one of those members who taste tested the food.
There’s only one conclusion I can come to.
“You little, you’re destroying the evidence!”
“I-I have no idea what you’re talking about. It’s still too early to be getting drunk. Come on, I’ll give you some tokoroten slime, so go over there! Quickly!”
“This isn’t what we agreed on. You promised to give me the freshly taken off panties of a newly ordained priest–”
The old man took the bag of tokoroten slime Cecily tried to slip into his jacket and tossed it over his shoulder without a second thought.
There are a lot of problems, but we can consider the case closed. I should probably go pick up the mandrakes buried in the forest later, but at least there won’t be any more incidents happening in town. Probably.
“Well, that’s the quest complete. Let’s go back to Sir, get paid, and get something to eat.”
“B-But there might still be victims running around. Will the guild really be satisfied? Plus, I don’t think Vanir-san will consider this case to be closed just yet.”
Now that she mentions it, the quest did call to identify the cause and put a stop to it. It’d be foolish to work without getting paid, so it’s probably best to put in a bit more work for now.
“Alright then, let’s go find two or three rampaging folks and drag them to the guild. Hey, corrupt priest over there.”
“Are you perhaps referring to me?”
“Who else could I be referring to? Did you give out food at any other place? Or did you give the vegetables to anyone else? And no more lies.”
“I swear on the name of Aqua-sama, I’m not lying. The only one who gave out the food is us, so there shouldn’t be anyone else who ate… Ah! Err, can I change the swear to the name of Zesta-sama instead?”
“Of course not! It’s obvious you’re planning on lying! Now, come on, lead the way!”
This woman is really bad at lying.
After getting the details from Cecily, we moved on to the next location.
“They are catching up to us!”
“If they catch us, they’ll definitely do something horrible! I need to escape!”
“Shut up and run! You’ll bite your tongue!”
Right now, I’m running flat out with a large pot in my hands.
Yunyun and Loli Succubus are also running alongside me with equal desperation.
And the people chasing us are the priest from the Eris Church.
“Stop right there! If you stop right now, we shall be merciful on you!”
“You aren’t convincing at all if you say that while waving a knife around!”
There is a reason why we ended up in this situation.
Because Cecily only had vegetables in the form of the mandrakes while cooking her stew, she traded some of it to the Eris Church in exchange for some meat.
I tried to get them to stop cooking, but all my words fell on deaf ears and we just kept going around in circles, so I eventually decided it’d be faster to just grab it and run.
“There is no telling what they’ll do if they catch us! Run as if your life depended on it!”
After somehow getting away and disposing of the soup, we paid a visit to the other location… and found ourselves in a flat run yet again.
“Don’t underestimate the Axis Cult, you vegetable thief!”
Angry voices came shouting from behind us.
Looking back, I could make out the forms of over a dozen angry Axis Cultists chasing after me.
“Why didn’t they hand it over after we explained it to them!? There’s no need to steal it, is there!?”
“The moment they saw me, they started making all kinds of unreasonable requests! It’d be faster to just take it than try and negotiate with them. When dealing with the Axis Cult, the cops will turn a blind eye even if you are a little rough on them, so there’s no need to worry about that!”
“That’s not what I’m worried about! Please stop throwing the mandrakes out just because you can’t be bothered to carry them with you! Vanir-san is going to be angry!”
I originally just asked them to give the vegetables back, but…
“There is no reason for me to return something that was freely given over. If you insist… well, you know what I’m talking about, right? If you have that little girl step all over me while giving me a scornful look, I might consider it.”
“I’ll give back one piece for each time you let me grope that girl, how about that?”
“If you call me ‘Master’ with a sweet voice, I might consider it.”
Those cultists just made all kinds of unreasonable requests. They only just got it from Cecily not too long ago, so where do they get off being so obstinate?
“They are criminals, so we can do anything to them when we catch them, right!? I call dibs on the little girl!”
“Ah, that’s no fair! Okay, fine, I’ll take the other quiet-looking girl!”
“I want to get my hands all over than blonde fellow!”
… I think I just felt a shiver go down my spine.
This is why I don’t want to get involved with the Axis Cult!
“I feel like an even worse fate awaits us if we get caught by them!”
“Axis Cult, noooooo! Vanir-sama, save me!”
The two of them ran with tears in their eyes as their arms are filled with mandrakes.
“Run with everything you’ve got! If you get caught, there won’t be a tomorrow waiting for you!”
With wild desperation fueling us , we managed to run all the way out of the town.
“.. So that’s the story. Not to toot my own horn, but I think we put in a lot of effort there.”
After returning to Wiz’s magic item shop, that still smells faintly of ashes, I gave my report.
Yunyun and Loli Succubus lay on the floor, completely exhausted. The only way I know they are alive is how they twitch every so often.
“It seems there will not be any further incidents as a result of this. Very well, here’s your reward. Claim it with glee.”
“Thanks, Sir. If anything else needs doing, feel free to talk to me.”
“Hmph, Moi does not have any request for you at the moment, but you might come asking me for a favour not too long in the future.”
Sir gave me yet another suggestive answer.
Normally, I wouldn’t pay such words any heed, but Sir’s predictions usually end up coming true.
“Well, when that time comes, I’ll be counting on you.”
Thinking that I’ll probably be coming back here soon, I left the magic item shop.
“I’ll hang around here to help Vanir-sama out~”
“Is that so? See you around, then. Yunyun, what are you going to do?”
“Eh? Err, I’ll go see Megumin. If I hang around you while you are carrying a child around for too long, rumours will start to spread… If rumours start spreading about me spending a lot of time with the delinquent who is also a deadbeat father, nevermind making friends, I won’t be able to walk around openly in this town again.”
This girl really is a worrywart, isn’t she?
It’s not like she has any friends in the first place, so what difference does it make?
After parting ways with Yunyun and Loli Succubus in front of the store, I made my way back to the Adventurers guild to give my report.
“Thank you for your work. It seems like this incident has been successfully contained. Thank you.”
And that concludes the quest. I got paid by both the guild and Sir, so this turned out to be a very profitable task.
Normally I’d treat myself to some luxuries with this money, but the sounds of a stomach growling came incessantly from my back.
“Dust, I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, I get it.”
… I wonder how many meals this money will last for.
Is this how a bird feels when it’s bringing food back to feed it’s hungry chicks? It feels like all the money I’ve been earning has been going into food lately.
“Is it annoying?”
Oh crap, it must have shown on my face. Faitfore is staring at me while nursing a frown.
“Of course not. We are close, aren’t we? So there’s no need to stand on ceremony.”
Seeing her smile after hearing that blew away all my worries in an instant.
“Oh, you’re back. How was it?”
Lynn waved at me from the corner of the tavern. I let Faitfore down and walked over to her together.
“It went without any issues. I earned some money from it, but they are all going to this girl’s food, so don’t even think about it.”
“Of course not. I’m not going to steal from you, so there’s no need to hide it from me. Anyway, more importantly, I need to talk to you about Taylor and Keith.”
Leaving Faitfore who grabbed a hold of a passing waitress and is busy ordering food to the side, I huddled close to Lynn.
I completely forgot about them during that last fracas, but I still haven’t thought of a good punishment for those two who canceled on me at the last minute.
“Well, it was really strange. The two of them were with Serena the entire time.”
“Huh? Are they planning to abandon this party and join up with Serena instead? Even if she’s sexier as a woman, that can’t be. Sure, Serena has a great figure with bountiful ass and tits, so I understand-Uwah!”
I clasped the staff that Lynn wordlessly swung at me between my hands.
Heh, a warrior like me won’t keep falling for the physical attacks of a mage.
“How naive, Lynn. Do you think I’d be so easy… Idiot! Don’t cast magic at such close ranges!”
A soft light slowly started forming at the tip of the staff. This girl is chanting magic while swinging her staff around.
“I’ll put up with it this time because Faitfore-chan is here. Can I continue?”
Her expressionless face is really scary.
“While you were out, I ran into the two of them and had a talk, but all they said were stuff like ‘We are busy protecting Serena right now’ and ‘We must protect her from the villain’, so I couldn’t get through to them at all. There is definitely something strange going on here, that behaviour is not normal.”
“Keith is a lecherous virgin, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he does end up acting like that, but there’s no way Taylor would do the same. He has a soft spot, but there’s no way he would break a promise without even providing a reason.”
“Yeah, exactly. Keith aside, Taylor isn’t that kind of person.”
“… I feel sorry for Keith.”
Faitfore, her cheeks stuffed to bursting with food, interjected into the conversation.
Lynn cleared her throat and continued.
“A-Anyway, I looked into it a bit more, and there seems to be quite a few adventurers who are acting in a similar way.”
“Luna did mention something like that. Like they were infatuated with Serena and stopped showing up for work. It feels like there might be something deeper behind this.”
“Right? And one more thing, no one knows what sect Serena is a priest of. Spells cast by different sects can stack when placed on the same target. Her spells stack on top of buffs applied by the Eris Church, so I know she isn’t a follower of Eris.”
“Most of the priests in this country are of the Eris Church, right? With a small minority belonging to the Axis Cult.”
There are quite a few Axis Cultists in this town, but their numbers couldn’t hold a candle to the Eris Church whose name influenced the currency of this country.
“So that leaves the Axis Cult or an even less well known sect. This is getting more and more suspicious. Well, I always thought that she smelled fishy.”
“… Weren’t you praising her not too long ago about how she isn’t fixated on money?”
“I don’t remember! People who appear upright are always hiding some shady stuff behind the scenes. Perhaps that’s the same for Serena too? She might appear to be a proper priest on the outside, but perhaps she’s secretly an Axis cultist on a plot to gain more followers.”
“Would an Axis Cultist really resort to such a roundabout means of recruitment? They are really persistent when it comes to soliciting new followers and don’t mind resorting to underhanded means, but they always let the cat out of the bag before too long.”
Now that she mentions it, it’s true. Axis Cultists recruitment plots are usually far more straightforward.
And they might be willing to resort to all kinds of things, but I’m pretty sure lying about which goddess they follow isn’t something most Axis Cultists are willing to do.
Perhaps I should look into investigating Serena a little more.
“By the way, I don’t see Aqua-nee-chan around anywhere. Didn’t she have some kind of falling out with Serena?”
Normally, when it starts getting dark, you’d see Aqua drinking up a merry storm at the tavern, but I don’t see her around anywhere.
“Ah, yeah, about that. She turned all the wine in the tavern to water when she was arguing with Serena a while back, so she’s barred from the tavern for a while.”
“What is she doing…”
I knew Aqua was worried about losing her position in the party to Serena, but to think that she’d actually do something like that.
Still, this means that the chances of Serena being a secret Axis Cultists are completely gone.
Taylor’s sudden change in demeanour is concerning, but personally, I’m too busy earning enough money to feed Faitfore.
“In any case, Serena hasn’t done anything, so if we start doing anything strange to her, we would be the ones branded as villains… Let’s just keep watch over them for now. For all we know, Taylor and Keith would come back to their senses after a while. Plus, I’m busy finding enough money to feed her.”
“Hmm, yeah. The two of them are just chasing after Serena, after all. It’s not like they are committing some kind of crime. I don’t have anything planned for the future right now, so I’ll help you out with the quests.”
In the end, we couldn’t come up with a plan, so we decided to just gather information and keep an eye out for now.
A few days have passed since then.
Since most of the other adventurers have stopped taking on quests, there has been no shortage of quests for us, and we managed to earn quite a sum over the past few days.
Most of the money we earned went to feed Faitfore, but we still managed to squirrel away enough for our own ends.
That’s a good thing, but…
“This really is weird, don’t you think?”
“Yeah. I’ve been out of town recently due to all the quests, but there is definitely something strange going on here.”
Up until a short while ago, the number of adventurers in the guild could be counted on one hand, but the moment Serena appeared…
“Hey, I’ve heard that Serena-sama’s holding a sermon! Get a move on!”
“It’s this way! You’ll miss out on seeing Serena-sama’s esteemed face if you don’t hurry!”
A wave of adventurers appeared alongside her, and the guild suddenly became alive
I think I can see Keith and Taylor within that wave of humanity.
“You’re joking, right? What’s with her popularity?”
I expected her fan club to be mostly made out of nothing but perverted old men, but there were quite a few women in that wave as well.
Despite the large crowd, all they did was get into a queue and told Serena about their worries.
“How do I put this, it’s surprisingly plain. I would’ve thought for sure that she’d be recruiting followers with erotic or even illegal methods, but she’s just running a consultation.”
“Still, we haven’t had a priest like priest in this town, so I suppose it is a fresh feeling. They seem to hold her in high regard.”
There are plenty of weirdos amongst the priests who choose to become adventurers. This town in particular is known as a gathering spot for weirdos. Even priests who lust for money aren’t a particularly rare sight.
But a priest who provides her services for free…
“It’s definitely fishy. You can’t trust someone like her at all. In the first place, clergy are people who placate the masses with empty words in order to rake in money through donations or tithes without lifting a finger. A priest who doesn’t seek compensation or solicit new members can’t exist in this world.”
“Say, do you have some bad experiences with the clergy in the past?”
“If it’s about the Axis Cult, I have a list as long as my arm.”
“Still, there are quite a few pieces of their doctrine that I agree with. In particular, I’m honestly envious of the way they simply heed their desires and enjoy living each day.”
While Lynn and I chatted, we continued observing Serena.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Kazuma and his party seated a short distance away.
It seemed like the entire party was present, but… the usually upbeat Aqua was looking like a wilted flower. It seems like her companions were trying to comfort her.
I was blinded by money the other day and praised Serena, but seeing Aqua like this made me feel really guilty. If I had to choose between those two priests, I think I’ll definitely come down on Aqua’s side.
“Hey, wait, where are you going?”
“I spotted Kazuma over there… I’m thinking of maybe buying them a drink.”
And I’ll give them an apology while I’m at it.
When I got up and started making my way over there, Kazuma suddenly stood up and started running at Serena.
“Let’s both take a nap today! I’ll leave thinking about how to seriously get in your way for tomorrow!”
With that, he jumped up and delivered a flying drop kick to Serena’s face.
Serena was sent flying, but for some reason, Kazuma too was sent flying in the other direction.
The two of them collapsed to the floor, and a stunned silence fell on the guild.
I don’t know who it was who let out that confused squeak, but that seemed to be the signal that broke everyone out of their daze.
“H-H-How did this happen! Hurry up and see to Serena-sama! And call the cops too!”
“Grab the guy who drop-kicked Serena! … Wait, isn’t this Kazuma!?”
The adventurers erupted into a frenzy, but when it became clear that the culprit was Kazuma, they suddenly became at a loss for what to do.
The only adventurers in this town who don’t know who Kazuma is are either newly arrived beginners or visitors from other towns.
During that period of indecision, Darkness walked up and put herself between the slowly angering crowd and Kazuma.
“I don’t know the reason, but he’s not the kind of man who’d do something like this on a whim! Please let me handle him.”
“No matter what reasons he might have, kicking a woman in the face is clearly a crime! Even if you are the daughter of the lord, I won’t stand for it. Please step aside!”
Those words failed to placate them, and the crowd slowly started closing in.
I looked over to Taylor and Keith, and they seemed to be just standing there in a daze. Just what are you doing?
“I understand your anger. Feel free to vent all your frustrations on me! I welcome both harsh words and fists! If you want, you can even resort to both at the same time! Now, come, there’s no need to hold back!”
With flushed cheeks and heavy breaths, Darkness spread out her arms and presented herself before the crowd.
… She sounded really cool at the start.
There were a few who seemed put off by that speech, but there were still quite a number of them who continued advancing towards Kazuma and Darkness.
“Dust, this is starting to look really bad.”
Lynn pulled on my sleeve and said in a somewhat worried tone.
That crowd is practically infatuated with Serena. It wouldn’t be surprising if they went overboard against an unresisting target who placed herself at their mercy like that.
“I guess I’ll buy some time until the cops arrive.”
I don’t know why he’d suddenly do something like that, but it’s obvious who I’d trust more in this case.
I took off my jacket as I approached the crowd that now formed around Kazuma and covered my face with a handkerchief.
Then, when I felt like I was deep enough into the crowd, I started grabbing at the asses of the people around me.
“Kyaa! Who grabbed my butt just now!?”
“Hehehe, that’s a nice ass you’ve got.”
“Abuwah! H-Hey, someone grabbed my butt too!”
“Dammit, wrong one!”
“There’s a pervert taking advantage of this situation to cop a feel on both men and women! Watch out!”
I’m doing this to help a friend of mine out of a tough spot! It’s definitely not me taking advantage of the chaos to cop a feel! Don’t misunderstand! As proof, I’m even touching the asses of men!
With the sudden appearance of a pervert, the situation became even more chaotic.
Right, I think it’s about time to pull out.
I tried to disengage, but someone suddenly grabbed a hold of my wrist.
“I found the pervert! What a lowlife, taking advantage of when Serena-sama is facing a problem to do such acts! Everyone, get him!”
“Ah, crap… Ah, Serena’s clothes are all ripped up! She’s basically half nude!”
“Really!? … What are you talking about? She’s fully clothed. Ah, shit!”
I took advantage of the distraction to shake his grip on me and immediately ran away.
“He’s really fast for a pervert!”
“This is the speed I gained from regularly running from the cops! Don’t think you can catch up so easily!”
“Be careful, he’s a repeat offender too!”
The police finally showed up just as I was leading the bunch that were originally closing in on Kazuma around the guild.
Passing by Lynn who was giving me an exasperated look, I dove out the window and onto the streets.
The crowd was worried over Serena, so most of them didn’t follow me outside. Once I rounded a few corners into an alley, I removed the handkerchief covering my face.
“Seems like I managed to shake them. Guess I’ll head back to the guild after everyone has calmed down some. Until then, Lynn will probably handle Faitfore just fine. She’s quite well behaved as long as she has enough food to eat, after all.”
Those two don’t get along very well, but they’ll probably be fine during dinner.
“Still, why did Kazuma do something like that? He must know something about Serena… Though, what should I do next?”
If he has some kind of plan, it’d probably be best if I don’t get in his way. That means I should talk to Kazuma before doing anything else.
Still, the problem is that I have Faitfore with me.
Even if it was just to gather information, I’d stand out terribly if I was carrying a child on my back.
“Anyway, paying for food comes first. If I have the money, the rest should naturally fall into place.”
I couldn’t think of any course of action right now, so after seeing Kazuma being safely escorted away by the cops, I snuck back into the guild.
The very next day, Kazuma and Serena were happily chatting to each other like nothing happened.
There’s definitely something off with the two of them having a candid conversation after one of them kicked the other in the face.
And in the end, nothing more serious than Kazuma throwing a slight wrench into Serena’s consultation took place.
Though, for a brief moment, Serena’s mannerisms changed to something far rougher than what we usually see.
… That’s probably her true nature.
I don’t know what Kazuma is up to, but whatever he’s doing is definitely going to be amusing to watch. I would really love to keep an eye on his activities, but I have my hands full with my own problems.
“Right, that’s today’s quota reached.”
“You know, I think this is the first time in your life you’ve ever treated work so seriously.”
Don’t be a wet blanket just as I’m celebrating the conclusion of the quests, Lynn.
Faitfore has been riding on my back during the battle, but now that the battle is over, she got off and dropped down next to Lynn who was roasting the dead frog with deft motions.
Their relationship might have been strained at first, but they seemed to have gotten closer after spending the last few days together.
“I’ll have it roasted in just a moment, so wait there for a while, okay?”
“Yunyun is faster. Second rate.”
A vein started popping on Lynn’s temple.
They are acting just like a mother in law and the bride. Seems like it’d take a little more time before they could get along with each other.
Despite her complaints, Faitfore happily dug into the roasted frog once it was done.
“Taylor and Keith still haven’t come back.”
While watching Faitfore enjoy her meal, Lynn said melancholically.
We caught up with Taylor and Keith after that and forced them to talk to us, but the only thing they said in response was “We’re busy guarding Serena-sama.”
It’s clear that they are under some kind of spell or curse.
Before I became an adventurer, I ended up in a similar state after an encounter with a cursed item.
I tried to get into contact with Kazuma to join forces, but he seemed to have vanished without even telling his companions where he is.
Last I heard, he’s been constantly harassing Serena. And they seem to be pretty mean spirited too. Serena’s facade has been cracking more and more recently.
“Kazuma seems to be planning something, so if we are lucky, it won’t be long before they come back to us.”
“I really don’t like leaving it all in the hands of someone else… but it’s hard to even talk to her with the number of bodyguards around her these days.”
Serena seems to be constantly surrounded by a swarm of bodyguards these days, probably as a reaction to Kazuma’s harassment. Just trying to get close to her would see us getting thrown out.
“Let’s observe for now. They are just hanging around Serena. It’s not like they are out committing crimes or anything.”
“Yeah. She’s suspicious, but she doesn’t seem to be treating them badly.”
… Don’t give me that melancholic look. When those two idiots get back, I’m going to lecture them. I’ll make them pay for enough food to fill Faitfore’s belly.
The guild was oddly quiet when we returned.
It wasn’t completely deserted, but the few adventurers that were here are all mostly alone and staring off into space.
Just like us, their companions went off to join Serena, so, lacking the means to take on most quest, most of them simply spend their days whiling time away here at the guild.
Normally, walking into the guild with a child clinging onto my back would’ve drawn all kinds of jeers from the guild, but not only were there no such calls, there wasn’t even a single person who came up to ask about our relationship.
“Well, I suppose having less trouble to deal with is a good thing.”
Still, I need to do something.
I’m practically the face of this guild, the big boss of the adventurers.
The adventurer’s guild of Axel should be far more lively than this.
The crazy explosion girl who gets teased by the people in the guild, the female knight who seemingly steps in to stop them, but instead starts encouraging them to tease her instead.
The priest whose only good point is party tricks my best friend standing amongst them with an exasperated expression.
And all the regular bastards laughing along with them.
“This just isn’t right.”
“What’s wrong, Dust? You don’t look like yourself.”
“Your face looks like the past you.”
I’m tired of seeing Lynn getting so worried over her companions too.
And I really want to show Faitfore the usual lively adventurer’s guild too.
“Right, I think it’s time to stop fooling around and seriously start working on a way to deal with Serena.”
“What great timing. Dust, do you think you can lend me a hand?”
The moment that statement left my lips, an unexpected voice called out to me from behind.
[Fun fact: in the original Japanese, Faitfore spoke with a childlike slur to drive home her relative young age and as her verbal tick. I wanted to convey that in English, but unfortunately the only good way to do so is to use uwu speak, which I ultimately decided against after… Certain events.
Anyway, the upshot is, there was a version of chapter 2 that was utterly littered with uwu speak, and if that doesn’t fill you with dread, I don’t know what will.]