A Crusader to Protect
[Note: This story takes place sometime around season 2, around volume 3-4 ish, so the status quo is a bit different from the more recent volumes.]
“Kazuma, a quest! Let’s go on a quest!”
The afternoon on a certain day.
As I was busy working on my side job in front of the fireplace, Darkness suddenly said that to me.
“Where did this come from? I don’t want to. It’s cold out. Plus, only the strong monsters are active in winter, right? Wait ‘till it’s warmer out before talking about such stuff.”
As I stopped working on my leather bags to reply, a voice agreeing with me popped up from the other side.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s best to keep yourself inside the house during this season. Do you want to play after I’m done with this match? Megumin keeps bringing out all kinds of weird rules, so I can’t manage to beat her.”
“Those aren’t weird rules. The Teleport that allows your Archwizard to escape from the board and Explosion that allows you to flip over the board once per day are all official rules.”
I looked over to the two of them casually playing a board game.
“You two too, can’t you lend me a hand? Why am I the only one working to clear our debts?”
“Megumin and I are saving our energy to be used when it’s needed. We are the trump cards of this town, so even though it might look like we are just playing around, this is actually a really important job. Anyway, this is a crucial moment, so don’t distract meー”
“Indeed. We are actually hard at work. Now, I’ll launch a magical attack with my Archwizard. Your Archpriest dies.”
“Waaah! I’m in a pinch because you distracted me! I’ve next week’s cleaning duties riding on this game!”
Giving up on the two who have no intentions of helping out at all, I returned to my workー
“Now is not the time to be caring about such peanuts! Here, look at this!”
“Ah, what are you doing!? Nevermind not helping, now you’re getting in the way… Hmm?”
I focused on the piece of paper that Darkness thrust into my face.
“Mysterious high bounty monster ‘The mighty messenger!’ There’s a large forest towards the south of Axel, next to that huge lake… Deep within that forest is an abandoned shrine, and that’s where this monster is said to be residing.”
On the piece of paper is a cutely drawn chibified humanoid monster with an octopus like face and tentacles for arms.
“… You’re just attracted to this guy’s tentacles, aren’t you?”
“How rude! Don’t insult the knightly spirit of a Crusader. This might be a high bounty monster, but almost all details about it are shrouded in mystery. The only thing we know for certain about it is it’s name. According to one rumour, it could even be a greater earth spirit that took a solid form due to someone’s conceptions. That’s why the adventurer’s guild made a request for me to investigate this monster.”
“Why would they ask you of all people to investigate? Are the guild staff blind? If they wanted to send someone to observe this monster, there are tons of people better suited for it. Like someone with the Thief class that can erase their presence, or an Archer with Farsight.”
In response to my question, Darkness folded her arms and pressed them tightly against her chest.
“The target is a monster that has a high price placed on its head. Without knowing what kinds of abilities it has, it’d be too risky to send a fragile Thief or an Archer against it. That’s why they decided to send me with the strongest defence in this town against it first to see what it can do.”
“… I see. True, considering how tough your skin is, you’ll be able to survive any attacks the monster sends at you, at least for a while.”
“I don’t like it when you put it that way, but that’s the gist of it. Since we don’t know what kinds of special abilities it possesses, it would be best to send me against it first to find out what it can do.”
… I see.
“Seems like you’ve put some serious thought into it. In this case, I don’t mind accompanying you. I was wrong to think that you just wanted to be fondled by a monster with tentacles. Well, if it’s just an investigation, I’ll be able to handle it from afar with my Farsight and Lurk skills. If we can fulfill the request that wayー”
“What kind of stupid things are you saying!? That would defeat the purpose of accepting this quest!”
“You really are just attracted to this guy’s tentacles, aren’t you?”
After heading south from Axel, we ran into a small mountain.
At the base of it lies a small muddy lake, and further beyond it is a deep and dark forest.
“Hey, I can detect an evil presence coming from this place. My intuition is telling me to go home and have a drink instead.”
“You just want to go home because it’s cold. Anyway, didn’t you say you and Megumin were saving your energy to be used when it’s needed? This is exactly the kind of situation where your abilities are needed, so hurry up and get to it.”
Dragging a protesting Aqua along, we headed deeper into the forest.
“So that high bounty monster is hiding in this forest? This is what I’ve been looking for! Rather than hunting weaker monsters down one by one, taking out a powerful one for a large bounty is way more fitting for an adventurer!”
In complete contrast to Aqua, Megumin was in extremely high spirits.
“The purpose of this quest is just to investigate the monster, there’s no need to pick a fight if we don’t have to. But, well, on the off chance that I get entangled by that tentacled monster, you guys should run without looking back. There’s really no need to save me, you hear?”
“Even if you cry for help later, I’ll really just leave you be.”
Ignoring the incorrigible pervert, we headed over to where the monster was last sighted.
My Enemy Detection skill hasn’t reacted yet.
“Hey, wouldn’t it be best to head home? The monsters active during winter are all really strong, you know? We’d be in really big trouble if we run into something other than that high bounty monster.”
Aqua, bringing up the rear of the party, said that while nervously looking around.
“That’s precisely why Megumin’s here. Freeloader number two who only spends her days meaninglessly launching explosions, breaking stuff, and playing board games is finally being useful. As freeloader number one, aren’t you afraid of being shown up?”
“Hey, is that freeloader number two referring to me? If you are, I’ll take you on right now!”
“Hey, number one isn’t me, right? It isn’t me, right?”
Ignoring the two of them who were making a fuss, I once again activated my Enemy Detection skill to scout out the area.
I’d really wish they’d stop making so much noise when we are trying to remain undetected.
Forget the bounty, if some other monsters happen to notice us…
ーJust then, I noticed something.
Despite us making so much noise, I couldn’t sense anything else.
And despite this being such a large forest, I couldn’t hear any birds chirping.
Nevermind the birds, not even the insects were making any noise.
I reflexively stopped and started scrutinizing my surroundings.
Megumin and Darkness followed my lead and came to a halt beside me.
“Just you wait, you shitty NEET! I’m going to do a really good job today and make you apologize for calling me a freeloader! Now, don’t just stand there, let’s go!”
Of course, there’s that same, one person who could never read the atmosphere. I turned towards her and raised my finger to my lips.
“… Something’s off. Nevermind monsters, I can’t detect the presence of any birds or insects at all. I’m getting a really bad feeling about this, so… Hey, I’m not trying to make a promise!”
Just as I told Aqua off for grabbing my outstretched finger in her pinky, almost as if it was waiting for this moment;
“Ka-Kazuma, Kazuma, there’s something over there! In the shadow of that tree, something squishy is moving!”
Megumin shouted with a shaky voice and pointed towards where something I can’t identify was.
The moment I laid eyes on it, all the hairs on my body stood up on end and my entire body trembled with fear.
I couldn’t get a clear look at it because every time I tried, a wave of fear and nausea struck me. From what I can tell, it was a tentacled monster that bore almost no resemblance to the cute creature drawn in the poster.
That mysterious high bounty monster emerged from the eerie shade, and let out a roar that caused the very air to rumbleー
“Waaaaah! Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san! Don’t leave me behind, Kazuma-san!”
“Idiot! Hurry up and run! Megumin, stop crying while chanting and hurry up and run! That’s definitely something you don’t want to fight!”
As we fell into complete panic, while crying and hastily preparing to cast spells, all four of us slowly started to run.
“K-K-Kazuma! T-That’s no good! Only that is physically unacceptable! Those tentacles are bad tentacles! That’s something that shouldn’t ever exist in this world!”
“You idiot, why are you talking about tentacles at a time like this!? You just have to look at it to tell that it’s dangerous! Just what is that thing!?”
I led the way, having taken off first. Behind me are Aqua, Megumin, and Darkness.
“It-it-it should be a greater earth spirit referred to as ‘The Mighty Messenger’ and ‘Crawling Chaos’, but…!!”
The mighty messenger… Crawling…
“Hey, isn’t that one of those really dangerous ones!?”
That’s a name that would be familiar to anyone who has an interest in games or fantasy.
It’s definitely not something that should be this close to the town of beginners.
Darkness said it was a greater earth spirit.
In this world, spirits create their appearances from the thoughts and conceptions of the first person they meet.
That’s one of the creatures that appear in the Cthulhu mythos, said to be an evil god that is associated with the earth.
For something like that to exist in this world, someone must have gone “If you think of winter, you think of the Winter Shogun, and if you think of earth spirits, you think of…ー!!”
“So this is the work of someone from home!!!”
“Kazuma, what’s wrong? Now is not the time to cry!”
I’m sorry! On behalf of all the Japanese, I apologize!
Still, now that I know that isn’t the real thing, I feel a little safer in turning around to look at it.
And what I saw when I did wasー
“That guy is definitely after us!”
I can’t see where it’s eyes are, but I get the feeling that it’s staring straight at us.
It raised one of it’s tentacles in our direction and fired somethingー
At the same moment that Darkness leapt into the way to protect us with her body, Megumin unleashed her spell.
Picking up Megumin who collapsed to the ground after expending all her mana, we ran flat out without looking backー!
After running all the way back to town, I laid the mana exhausted Megumin down on the sofa.
“Seriously, I’m never taking another quest in the winter! That thing is seriously disgusting! I’ll definitely have nightmares about it tonight!”
A shiver went through my spine the moment I thought about what we just ran away from.
No, wait a minute.
If I know I would have nightmares today, I might as well visit that store and ensure a good dream tonight…
Just as I was nodding along to this brilliant idea I had, Aqua said.
“Where’s Darkness? Where did she go after leading us into this? I won’t feel right if I don’t lecture her for at least an hour for dragging us into such a scary situation.”
“She went to make a report to the guild after changing in her room. We did gleam quite a bit of information about it, so we shouldn’t have any problems claiming the reward. Let’s splurge a little and get something delicious tonight.”
“That sounds good. Let’s eat some delicious food and some high grade wine together and forget all about that thing.”
Megumin said with a smile while still slumped over the sofa.
“Ah, I don’t need any wine today. And I’ll be sleeping outside tonight.”
Before I could respond, Darkness returned bearing a large pouch in her hand.
“I’m back. Thanks for your hard work. From what the guild told me, it seems like that forest is going to be sealed off for the time being. That really isn’t something we should be fighting. Anyway, here’s the rewards from this quest… Sigh. It feels really heavy…”
Perhaps because she’s tired from today’s battle, Darkness, who had already taken off her armour, tiredly let the pouch of money slam on the table.
“Hey, Darkness, just what is with that thing? To be honest, I was really scared! It’s a good thing that goddesses don’t need to go to the toilet! If I was a normal person, I would’ve peed my pants!”
“E-Even if you say that, this is an important task… Aah! W-Wait, Aqua, are you really that angry!? P-Please go a little easier on me…!”
Aqua, grabbing Darkness by her hands, managed to pin her down on top of the table somehow.
“… What’s wrong, Darkness? I’m not really using much of my strength… Oh, I see. You’re acting all weak and tired to try and quell my anger. Lets see how long you are going to keep up your act for!”
“W-Wait, Aqua, what are you saying!? Wai-stop! Aaaah!”
I was about to ignore the two of them as they wrestled on top of the table, but something felt off to me.
“… Hey, Darkness, just what is wrong with you today? Seeing you who is normally so bullish acting so weak is kind of enjoyable.”
“Kuh…! Just what is going on!? Hey, Aqua, you didn’t cast any strength boosting spells on yourself, did you!? T-To think that I would lose to Aqua in a contest of strength…!”
… Yeah, something is definitely wrong.
Considering Darkness’s serious personality, it isn’t like her to put on an act like this.
I approached the two of them and swapped places with Aqua.
“!? S-Stop, Kazuma, just what are you planning to do!? And you too are…! Just when did the two of you become so strong!?”
There’s no mistaking it.
“Hey, she’s become really weak.”
ーWe let the weakened Darkness sit on the sofa, and the three of us crowded around her.
Darkness, who is usually pretty sharp, now seems as meek as a cat.
“Darkness, Darkness, please arm wrestle with me!”
Megumin, who received a bit of mana from me, cheerfully challenged Darkness to a match.
“Uu… N-No, I think I’ll refrain today…”
“What? You of all people!? A Crusader of all classes!? Don’t tell me you are afraid to pit your strength against a spellcaster!? I’m disappointed! So disappointed! Please bring back the usual reliable and cool Darkness!”
“Kuh…! V-Very well, let’s have a match!”
“That’s the Darkness I know! As expected of our party’s Crusader!”
There’s no way Megumin would’ve let such a great opportunity slip her by.
And Megumin slammed Darkness’s hand on the table without any hesitation or mercy.
“What’s wrong? Darkness, even if you are up against a spellcaster, there’s no need to hold back this much, you know?”
Megumin said with a wide grin on her face, placing both hands on Darkness’s shoulder as she lay on top of the table.
“Still, where did this come from? Did Eris-sama punish you by reducing your levels because you did something bad? Ah, you must be the one who ate the cream puffs I had hidden away! That’s why Eris-sama punished you!”
“Who would do such a thing!? I have done nothing to be ashamed of! This has to be a curse of some sort!”
“Yes, it’s just as Darkness said. This is a curse. Plus the one who ate the cream puffs stored at the back of the cupboard was me. There’s no way Darkness who helps out every day with the physically demanding tasks would suffer from divine punishment.”
Aqua placed a finger on her cheek and stared intently at Darkness…
“Hey, you were the one who ate my cream puffs?”
“So this is a curse? That means the thing we were fighting earlier must have placed it on her…”
Aqua nodded in response to Megumin’s words.
“Indeed. This is a slow acting curse that reduces the strength of the target.”
“Hey, don’t try and brush over it. Go buy some cream puffs right now. Those were the expensive ones that the massively popular store sold.”
“Sacred Break Spell!”
Ignoring me completely, Aqua casted a spell on Darkness.
And then she put on a reassuring smile and said.
“It’s fine now. The thing’s curse is pretty powerful, and it’s a slow acting curse, so the effects will take a while to go away, but it shouldn’t take longer than two or three days.”
“Hey. I said hey. Look at me. Don’t ignore me.”
Darkness let out a sigh of relief before standing up.
“Is that so… That’s good. I was worried for a moment there, but if it’s just that, it shouldn’t affect my daily life too much. Anyway, I’ll go finish taking out the trash. It’s my duty, after all.”
Saying that, she moved to pick up the trash bags placed near the entrance…
“… Kuh…This thing…! Pant…pant… U-Um, sorry, but… Can someone lend me a hand…?”
She said with a really apologetic expression after failing to lift those bags.
The next morning.
“… Hey, Kazuma, I’m feeling kind of weird today.”
“You are always weird, but I’ll bite. What exactly feels weird?”
Though I can pretty much guess at what Aqua is going to say.
“You see, ever since last night, I’ve been feeling a really strong urge to…”
As she said that, Darkness was struggling to open the lid on the jam jar.
“Kuh…! The lid is screwed on too tightly… A-Aqua, I’m sorry, but…”
“You want my help opening it? No problem. Here, it’s open.”
After opening the jar, Aqua came back and whispered
“ーI’ve had a really strong urge to protect Darkness.”
… Well, it’s certainly understandable.
Darkness seems to have grown even weaker than yesterday, to the point where she has to rely on us for her basic day to day activities. Seeing her acting this fragile makes me feel…
“Um, sorry, Kazuma. I want to put on some tea, but the teapot is too heavy…”
“Got it, leave it to me. I’ll pour it out for you.”
Aqua and I have been taking care of Darkness since last night.
Just what is this feeling?
Seeing her with a loosely flowing, pure white nightgown, unable to lift anything heavier than a teacup and panting heavily after climbing a flight of stairs makes her look exactly like a fragile noble young lady.
“Thank you very much.”
Darkness thanked me with a truly grateful smile from just being offered a cup of tea.
My chest is pounding for some reason.
Seeing her like this really stirs up my protective instincts.
… Maybe it’s fine to have her like this.
As Darkness carefully lifted her teacup with both hands and slowly sipped at the tea, Aqua seems to be thinking along the same lines as me.
“Hey, Kazuma, seeing Darkness so weak like this makes me feel really warm inside. I feel like it might be fine if she remains like this.”
“What a strange coincidence, I’m thinking the same thing.”
“H-Hey, what are you saying, you two!?”
After taking a much longer time than usual, Darkness finally finished with breakfast.
“Oh, my, Darkness. You sure are enjoying yourself, being waited on by everyone like this.”
Megumin, who had already finished her breakfast and had been washing the dishes in the kitchen, walked into the room.
“I-I’m not really being waited on…”
“I can’t believe you’d deny it while everyone is pampering you from top to bottom! And you’re finally done with your meal. I’m in charge of washing dishes today, so hurry up and bring them to the kitchen, otherwise I’d be at this until the sun sets.”
Megumin hounded darkness with words that made her sound like some kind of stepmother.
Darkness hastily gathered up her cutlery and tried to lift them, but…
“What? You are not trying to say that you can’t lift anything heavier than a teacup, are you!? Seriously, how could the normally strong and bold Darkness fall to such a state!? You aren’t purposefully putting on a ‘weak noble lady act’, are you?”
Megumin’s eyes shone bright red with excitement as she lectured Darkness.
I’ve suspected this for some time now, but I think Megumin might have a sadistic streak.
“Hey now, Megumin, I understand your desire to tease Darkness now that she’s become so weak, but she’s going to turn the tables on you once she gets her strength back. I’ll take the dishes, so just rest, Darkness… And why are you breathing so heavily?”
“N-No, it’s just, this might not be so bad…”
Unexpectedly, the two of them seem really taken with this situation.
ーLater, Darkness and I visited the guild to give them an update on yesterday’s investigation.
“… So, yes, that high bounty monster seems to have the ability to cast curses as well.”
I quickly caught the attention of the guild staff and informed them about Darkness’s strength getting sapped and the suspected abilities of the monster.
“Thank you for the additional information. It seems like it would be best to put out a notice to stay away from the monster in addition to restricting access to the forest. I think we’ll give you an additional reward for this information, so please wait till the payment is delivered.”
Well, I’m grateful for the additional reward.
Just as I’m thinking that I’m one step closer to paying off my debts…
“Uwoooh! It’s true, Darkness has really gotten weaker!”
That surprised shout echoed through the guild.
Turning to look at the source, Darkness is surrounded by a small crowd of adventurers.
It seems that the people who heard the rumours about Darkness getting weaker have challenged her to an arm wrestling match to confirm it.
Darkness, after losing multiple times in a row, including once against a female mage, laid with her face flat against the table.
“Oh my, I never thought I would live to see this day!”
“It’s true, I never expected that there would come a day where I could defeat Darkness!”
“Darkness, you’re only good at being hard, erotic, and having monstrous strength, so what are you doing now after losing one of your key traits?”
“Heheh, ehehehe…! I bested Darkness in an armwrestling match…! She might be under a curse, but I still bested her! I’ll have to boast to my companions later!”
I rushed into the middle of the crowd.
“Hey, she’s only temporarily weakened! I understand wanting to get back at her after suffering her lectures and hard-headedness every day, but she’ll turn the tables on you once she gets her strength back, so don’t go too far!”
“Y-You were thinking that?”
Darkness looked up at me reproachfully before softly whispering.
“Now, now. Here, Darkness-san, this is on me! You aren’t going on any quests today, right? So dig in!”
Saying that, the female mage who bested Darkness earlier placed a mug filled to the brim with foam and beer on the table.
Perhaps to cover her embarrassment, Darkness quickly picked up the mug in both handsー
“I-It’s too heavy for me to drink…”
She said, looking up towards the female mage with a teary look in her eyes.
… The curse must be progressing even faster than I thought.
The female mage blushed for some reason.
“… I’ll help support the mug for you. Is this okay, Darkness-san? Ah, if you drink that quickly, it’ll spill…!”
Saying that, she raised the mug to make it easier for Darkness to drink, acting like a mother hen fussing over her chick.
A strange hush fell upon the adventurers who saw this.
“You know, something feels really weird. Darkness is starting to look like a regular girl to me.”
“M-Me too. Even though it’s Darkness-san, I get this overwhelming urge to protect her.”
Such whispers started spreading through the crowd of adventurers.
“Hey, you guys go over there! I won’t show you any mercy if you get in Darkness-san’s way!”
“No more armwrestling! This isn’t a show! Shoo, shoo!”
The female adventurers started forming a ring around Darkness. It seems like their protective instincts were simulated too.
“Looking at her like this, with her blonde hair and blue eyes, she really does seem like a proper noble lady. It almost makes me feel like a maid to be looking after her like this.”
“I-Is that so?”
Darkness said, sounding taken aback, but they continued.
“You’re normally so serious and strong, so seeing you act so weak and fragile is such a wide gap that it hits me right in the maternal instincts… Ah, I just want to pamper you! This is so unfair.”
Darkness, who had most likely never been treated like this before, gave an awkward smile, but made no motions to resist.
“Ah, Kazuma-san, we’ll make sure to send Darkness-san back to the mansion later, so you can go back first.”
Ultimately, even I ended up getting driven away.
… Wait, what?
The next morning.
“Alright Darkness, say aaah~.”
Aqua, whose maternal instincts seem to have been awoken by this incident, was feeding Darkness, who seemed to have gotten used to being pampered.
Though, Darkness’s face is red with embarrassment, so I suppose she hasn’t gotten completely used to it.
And, sitting on the sofa, pretending to read a newspaper while observing the two of them with glowing red eyes, was a certain crimson demon.
“… Aqua being weird is just business as usual for her, but why are you acting weird too?”
“I’m confused too. What is with this urge to defeat Darkness immediately welling up within me? I didn’t think I had any strange tastes, but seeing Darkness being so fragile is pulling on something deep within me.”
You sound like a wild predator coming across a weakened prey animal.
“… Hey, Aqua, you said that it’d take two or three days for the effects of the curse to vanish, right? Then, shouldn’t Darkness be regaining her strength soon?”
“Yeah. It wouldn’t be surprising for her to regain her strength now, but personally, it’s been really fun taking care of Darkness over the last couple of days, so I don’t mind if she remains this way forever. Right, aaah~.”
“Uggh… I don’t dislike being waited on like this, but I hope the curse would go away as soon as possible…”
Darkness whimpered, but she still opened her mouth obediently.
Aqua is saying stupid things as usual, but if things continue as it is, it’d be a problem for me too.
We need to start seriously earning money once winter breaks.
True, the current Darkness does make me feel warm inside whenever I look at her. She’s even started acting meeker as a result of the curse.
Because she has to rely on us after losing her strength, she can’t be her usual bullish self or indulge in her urges.
And she was already a beauty with a great body, so with her current personality, I can’t help but think of her as a charming woman without any faults…
“Say, is there no way you can extend the effects of the curse?”
“You too!? What happened to you? Aqua and Megumin and now you too, just what happened to all of you!?”
Perhaps because she’s used to being treated roughly and is thus unused to her current treatment, Darkness got to her feet, her face blushing red with a mix of rage and embarrassment.
“Seriously! I can’t stay here! I’m heading to the adventurer’s guild!”
As she said something that sounded just like a death flag…
“… You developed a taste for it after getting fussed over by everyone at the guild yesterday, didn’t you?”
“O-O-Of course not!”
And just then,
“Emergency quest! Emergency quest! All adventurers, please prepare for battle and gather at the adventurer’s guild!”
The emergency klaxon that I haven’t heard for quite some time echoed throughout the town.
ーApart from Darkness who was too weak to put on her armour, the rest of us quickly put on our gear and made our way over to the guild.
What greeted us when we arrived was a scene of complete chaos.
Some guild staff were running all over, gathering potions and distributing them to the adventurers, who were all busy with preparations for a large scale battle.
“Ah, Satou-san! What good timing!”
The moment I stepped through the door, one of the guild ladies called out to me.
“What’s going on? Why are you all in such a panic?”
“About that, the high bounty monster that you guys ran into the other day was sighted near the town…!”
The guild lady responded with such an explosive revelation.
“Wait, that thing is approaching the town!? I blasted it with a shot of my Explosion! It can’t have recovered that quickly!”
Megumin said incredulously. She must have got it in a clean blast the last time.
“That thing was originally a greater earth spirit. It has high resistance against magic, so even if you use Explosion on it, a single shot probably wouldn’t take it down. But…!”
The guild lady continued, and from what she told me, it seems like Megumin’s spell gave it a pretty serious wound.
In fact, they suspect it probably came wandering down to town because that blast enraged it.
“In that case, if we can get Megumin to blast it again…”
“Yes, it’ll most likely take it down… ”
The two of us slowly shifted over to look at Megumin.
“Blast it once more, huh… To be honest, that thing really creeps me out, but I suppose we’ll have to do it.”
Megumin seems much less confident than usual.
“It’s really rare to see you being afraid, considering how you normally pick a fight with anyone without caring about the consequences.”
In response to my jab,
“Of course I’d be afraid. Darkness is severely weakened, right? The reason why I can focus on chanting my spell is because I know that no matter what happens, I can rely on Darkness having my back.”
Megumin let those words tumble from her lips.
Darkness, who was surrounded by adventurers who pulled out a chair for her the moment she entered the guild, said.
“… I might not be able to wear armour because of my lack of strength, but I should still have the highest defence out of anyone in the guild. I can still be your shield.”
As we looked over to her, Darkness had her usual strong and reliable smile on her face, the fragile mannerisms of the past few days nowhere to be found.
That must have set them off.
“Even Darkness-san, as weak as she is, is going to the front lines! Staying back would be pathetic!”
“I’ll protect you, Darkness-san!”
“Darkness who can’t even lift a pair of chopsticks is going to fight, so I’ll definitely go out too!”
Darkness, declaring that she would fight even though she’s too weak to even hold a weapon up or wear armour, seems to have inspired the other adventurers.
Seeing them, Darkness let out a tearful smile.
“Thank you, everyone. Once this battle is over…”
“Oh? Hey, Darkness, according to my peerless eyes, the curse on you seems to have been broken.”
Yes, Aqua interjected.
Darkness let out in a daze.
“The curse on you has been broken, completely. Try putting some strength into your arms, you should be completely back to normal.”
Following Aqua’s advice, Darkness gripped the edge of the table and clenched…
“… Did you just hear a crack?”
“I feel like I heard a noise that should never be made by a table.”
The adventurers closest to Darkness started edging away.
“To think that the curse would break at such a convenient time, this must be Eris-sama watching over me…!”
After regaining her senses, Darkness raised her fist and triumphantly declared, but at that moment, the door to the guild flew open with a bang.
“Hey, good news everyone! The owner of the magic item shop just went out of town and blasted that thing with Explosion! It’s completely gone now!”
I can’t decide if that person came in at the best time or the worst time.
Darkness slowly lowered her raised fist.
“I see. The spirit that placed the curse on you has dissipated, so the curse placed on Darkness went with it. Isn’t that great, Darkness? Now everything is back to normal!”
Aqua, once again, completely failed to read the room.
“Right, let’s drink.”
“Yeah, Axel is peaceful and nothing happened today.”
“So that fragile and cute Darkness is gone, huh…”
The adventurers around Darkness slowly started dispersing.
“… Say, Kazuma, can we go find another greater spirit that can use the curse of weakeningー”
“I’m not taking on any extermination quests.”