Beware of Imposters
[Note: This is the second of the Blu Ray short stories that I previously translated that ended up getting included in the Yorimichi compilation, hence why it’s going up on Wednesday instead of the usual time. Chapter 8 will be going up this weekend.
As usual for Blu Ray short stories, this story takes place around volume 4, so the status quo is a bit different from the more recent volumes.]
This took place sometime after lunch, but not late enough for dinner.
On that day, I was wandering around the town of Axel to kill time when I started to feel a little peckish.
Ducking into a roadside stall, I ordered a couple of meat skewers and was happily chowing down on them when an adventurer called out to me.
“Hey, young man.”
Judging from the way he addressed me, he’s most likely from out of town.
“Soffy, gife fe a mofent fo swaffow thif.”
“… Ah, sorry for interrupting your meal.”
As I chewed on my skewer, I scrutinized the adventurer.
He was about a head or so taller than me, and was wearing a black breastplate underneath a black cloak.
At first glance, he looks hardened and rugged, but at the same time he also has the air of a pretty boy.
From the many and varied dents on his armour and the pair of swords hanging from his waist, he must be a fairly experienced adventurer.
He has blood red hair, and the forceful will that’s clearly visible from behind his brown eyes are telling me that he isn’t someone to be taken lightly.
ー There’s no mistaking it, he’s someone who far outclasses me in both level and experience.
“You don’t have to stop eating, just hear me out. You see, I’m looking for a person. My name is Ozuma. Zatou Ozuma. I’ve heard that there is a man named Satou Kazuma living in this town. He’s quite famous around the area, as I’ve been led to believe. Do you know where I might find this person?”
I involuntarily spat out the skewer I was eating.
“ーAre you alright? I’ve conjured up some water, so drink up. It should help.”
Ozuma handed a cup of water over to me as I fell into a coughing fit.
“Ozuma-san, was it? Thanks… Um, you’re an adventurer, right? What business do you have with this Satou Kazuma fellow?”
I said between sips of water.
Our names are just way too similar.
Wait, don’t tell me, is he going to demand that I change my name because it’s too similar to his, or pay him a fee if I want to continue using it, or the like?
This is the name my parents gave to me, so there’s no reason for me to get into a fight over it.
Still, if such a skilled and experienced adventurer were to pick a fight with me over that, I’ll probably end up inadvertently handing my wallet over to him.
“You see, his name is very similar to mine, but he seems to have a pretty bad reputation. Thanks to him, I’m always met with distrust wherever I go. So I need to have a few words with him… Well, there are some other reasons too, but…”
Ozuma scratched his head and smiled.
Well, he doesn’t seem to be a bad person at heart, at least.
Mostly, it seems like he’s troubled by my reputation. Well, I am aware that most of the rumours surrounding me don’t exactly cast me in a glowing light.
He doesn’t seem like the rash sort, so he’d probably understand if I explain things to him.
“… Listen to me and don’t get angry, okay? The truth isー”
Just when I made it that far.
“Ozuma! There you are!? Did you find that scumbag Kazuma!?”
A woman’s voice called out to us, and three female adventurers came walking towards us.
“Hey, Ozuma, didn’t we agree to leave the information gathering to us? You look really scary, so it really seems like you are shaking down an innocent citizen right now.”
Saying that, the black haired mage gave me an apologetic look.
“I’m really sorry, our Ozuma must have caused you so much trouble…”
The blue haired priest bowed and apologized.
“Young man, I’m really sorry. This man isn’t a bad person, so please don’t be afraid. Ah, I’m…”
With a smile that seemed like the perfect picture of chivalry, the blonde haired, blue eyed knight gave me a bow.
“I’m a crusader, Larkness. May I have your name, young man?”
“My name is Tanaka.”
I decided to give them a false name after all.
“Apologies for the wait! Here is the deep fried frog’s tongue you ordered!”
“Ah, that’s the one. This is a local delicacy. It’s really delicious. You can’t visit this town without giving it a try.”
We decided to go to a restaurant to chat while having a meal.
The mage girl regarded the plate in front of me with an intense frown.
“F-Frog? Ah, no, no, no, I can’t eat this. Pass. Aren’t there any running hawk kite or snowbird meat I could order instead?”
It seems like it’s the first time they laid eyes on frog meat.
“This is the town of beginners, you know? The meat of the weakest monster, the Giant Frog, is a staple in this town. Not many people are willing or able to hunt stronger creatures that live around here.The skewers that the roadside stall was selling are delicious, but the owner stubbornly refuses to tell anyone what meat he uses. That’s why we call his skewers mystery skewers.”
“I-I can’t believe you are brave enough to eat meat with such unclear origins. You must really be quite something.”
Of course, I hold the weakest class, but there’s no reason to tell them that.
“So, did you find that scumbag Kazuma!?”
That mage girl said this just now.
“You said you’re Tanaka-san, yes? Don’t hold back and dig in. Treat this meal as our thanks for talking with us.”
The priest lady said with a smile.
Her name seems to be Acure.
“Hey, aren’t you going to eat? Hurry up and tell us what a frog tastes like!”
Even though she passed on eating the meat earlier, the mage girl looked at me with an anxious gaze almost bursting with curiosity.
The other people in her party have names that are very similar to the ones in my party, but this girl in particular…
“Megumi, we are treating this man to a meal as thanks for information. Don’t pester him, let him eat on his own time.”
“Oh, fine… But, I really want to know what eating frog meat feels like…”
Megumi said, gazing down but stealthily shooting me gazes of anticipation…
Yes, her name is Megumi.
There are many things I want to say to her, but I kept it to myself and ate a piece of frog meat with my fork…
“That sounds just like any other type of meat! Hey, you are a regular here, right? You said these are delicious, right?”
Megumi immediately said, cutting me off. It seems like she isn’t satisfied by my description.
If I went to a place I usually hang out, there’s a chance I could run into someone I know. That’s why I went to this out of the way tavern and pretended like I was a regular here.
“Say, Megumi… san, was it? You have a unique name.”
“What’s with that pause? But yes, people do ask about my name a lot. Umm, well… My grandfather gave me this name. It’s said that it means to be blessed.”
I see. So this girl isn’t from Japan like me, but rather the granddaughter of someone who came from Japan.
“So, Tanaka-dono, can you tell us anything about that Kazuma person?”
Larkness asked sternly as I bit into another chunk of frog meat.
I silently continued chewing my food…
“Tanaka-dono? T-Tanaka-dono? Why are you in a daze?”
Oh right, I’m supposed to be Tanaka right now.
“… Tanaka-san, was it?”
“Yes, Tanaka-san here.”
Acure asked, and I responded after wiping my mouth.
“Right then, let me tell you everything I know about Kazuma.”
And with that, I recounted the events that happened so farー
“ーSniff… What a pitiful person, this Kazuma-san…”
Megumi said between tears after hearing my story.
“Even though he clearly saved the town, he still got saddled with huge debts… And not just once, but twice… unforgivable…!”
Larkness slammed her fist on the table.
To the two of them, I smiled and said.
“But those huge debts are nothing to him. Exploiting his sharp mind, he constantly develops new products, and by now he has already paid off his debts and bought a mansion. I’m sure he’s enjoying his happiness somewhere in this town right now…”
It might be somewhat exaggerated, but what I said is by no means a lie.
When I got halfway through, Acure closed her eyes and brought her hands together in prayer.
“He truly is an impressive man.”
Ozuma let out a sigh and leaned back in his chair, gazing at the ceiling.
It might not have been addressed directly at me, but getting such praise made me blush a little.
“It’s really great… It’s really great that Kazuma-san managed to save himself…”
Megumi was crying tears of sympathy earlier, and now she’s crying tears of joy.
What a sentimental child. And she was so aggressive when we first met too.
Well, being able to clear things up is certainly a relief.
“So, the much beloved Kazuma-san is quite busy every day. If possible, it’s best not drag him into any more trouble and let him live his life in peace.”
“Well, if that’s the case… I do have some things to say to him, but very well. We’ll head out tomorrow.”
Larkness said with a wry smile.
Just as I felt relief over resolving this matter, Ozuma suddenly looked towards me
“I must thank you, Tanaka. It’s only thanks to you that we could hear such a moving tale.”
With that, he gave me a deep bow.
“ーWell, that’s the story. Anyway, I already ate dinner, so you guys can eat on your own today. Help yourselves to my serving.”
After returning home, I relayed the story of what happened to the rest of the party.
Darkness stopped eating and gave me an exasperated look.
“Y-You really are… Is this really okay?”
“What? I didn’t tell a single lie. If you have any comments to make about what I had said, then feel free to lay it out right here.”
I said that while petting Chomusuke who decided to help herself to my portion of today’s dinner.
“Well, as long as the other party is happy, it’s fine. We’ve gotten into a lot of trouble lately, so I would like to take it easy for a while.”
“Yeah, just as Megumi…n said, I would like some time to laze about too.”
“Aqua, what’s with that weird pause while you were saying my name just now? And I feel like the way you said it is strange too…”
“It’s nothing. Anyway, Megumi…n, can you pass me the soy sauce?”
“You sure have some guts to make fun of my name, Acure! I’m going to make you cry tonight!”
“Hey, what gives, Megumi!? Do you really think a mage like you can match me for strength!? Until you apologize for calling me Acure, I’ll…!”
With that, Megumi and Acure started tussling with each other.
“B-Both of you, cut it out. We are still in the middle of dinner. This is too…”
Larkness… No, wait, Darkness worriedly looked at the two of them.
“Still, between Larkness and Darkness, if I have to say which one of them is a more fitting name for a Crusader, I’ll have to say Larkness.”
Lalatina, who, just like Megumin, had been teased about her name many times before, had a conflicted look on her face before she hurried with her meal.
“Hahahaha! Megumi-Megumin! I get it! I’ll apologize, so please stop! Please stop!”
“You say that, but you are still calling me by that weird name! I’m not letting go until you are in tears!”
While the laughter of Aqua sounded besides me, I silently thanked my lucky stars that I was able to avoid another troublesome incident.
“Satou Kazuma! Where are you! Come out here right now! My fist has some words it’d love to say to your face!”
The next day.
I was awoken by a shout coming from the door.
“Hey, Kazuma, some strange people are making a lot of noise in front of our door today! Did you cause some trouble again? I’ll go with you to apologize, so hurry up and apologize to them!”
Aqua suddenly barged into my room and pleaded.
“Why does it have to be me!? You are the one who usually causes trouble… Hold on?”
I got up from my bed, perked up my ears and listened.
“Satou Kazuma! You scoundrel, get out here! Who the hell is Tanaka? I’ll fucking kill you!”
That voice sounds really familiar.
“Oh, what should we do? They sound like the imposters that I told you about yesterday.”
“So those are the people who caused me and Megumin to end up in tears?”
Did they not believe me and asked other people about me?
Well, in any case, it’d be troublesome to leave them banging on the door.
“Hey, Aqua, what are Darkness and Megumin doing?”
“Those two are currently struggling on the porch. To be more accurate, Darkness is holding Megumin back from charging right out the door.”
Still wearing my pajamas, I went downstairs.
“Darkness, let go of me! The root cause of why Aqua made fun of me yesterday is standing right outside!”
“Your names might be quite similar, but she hasn’t actually done anything to you! If you intend on charging out to pick a fight, I can’t just idly stand by!”
Just like Aqua said, Darkness is currently gripping onto Megumin who seemed determined to rush out there and pummel everyone into submission.
“Ah, Kazuma! The people you were talking about yesterday are right outside! They’ve been banging on the door for some time now, and they even called us imposters…!”
“Now, now, calm down, Megumin. I’ll take care of them in a snap with my special move.”
I was alone yesterday, so I didn’t push for a confrontation, but now I am at my home along with my companions.
I boldly opened the door and regarded Ozuma who seemed to be in the middle of knocking it down.
“I’m going to call the cops. The crimes are destruction of private property and use of threats. The prosecutor here is quite fearsome, so you best prepare yourself.”
Hearing that, Ozuma, who was about to give me a punch, trembled and halted in place.
“B-Bastard… You lied to us, got us to treat you to a meal, and now you threaten to run to the cops the moment trouble rears its head! You are even worse than the rumours said!”
Ozuma yelled, red in the face. His companions also had similar expressions as they looked at me.
“I don’t know what you’ve heard, but I’ve never uttered a single falsehood. Besides, it was your idea to treat me to a meal so you can ask me more about Kazuma.”
Megumi, veins popping on her forehead, stepped forward.
“Y-You scoundrel! You still have the guts to say that! You told us, ‘That Swordmaster had more than 30 levels over him, and had a magic sword on top of that. It’d only be natural for most people to back down and agree to hand his companions over, but Kazuma is different. Even though he was a low-leveled newbie, even though he only had a cheap short sword, even though he had the weakest class, he wouldn’t betray his companions!’ But when I asked about him, it turns out that Swordmaster only challenged you because he wanted to free someone you caged up! And then you stole his sword and sold it…!”
I quickly shot back.
“Hah!? What’s wrong with that!? We received a quest to purify the lake and decided to use the most efficient and safest method of putting her in a protective cage while she got to work! What’s wrong with that!? And he is the one who picked a fight with me! What should I have done!? Fought him head-on!? Are you telling me that a newbie with only shabby equipment should face a man thirty levels above him clad in resplendent armour and a magic sword in a straight up duel!?”
She probably never expected me to shoot back with such ferocity. Her face turned pale and she seemed at a loss for words.
“And weren’t you moved to tears by my tale yesterday?! I’ll say it again, none of what I told you was a lie! Everyone has their own values and views on what constitutes acceptable tactics, so the tales they would tell might be different, but I didn’t utter a word of falsehood. But you! You were so moved by that tale yesterday, and now you come to my house to cause a ruckus and call me a liar!”
“T-That’s… N-No, that’s not it. I was really moved by your tale yesterday, but after calming down and sleeping on it, I thought that just hearing one side might not reveal the true story… Plus, every single one of your tales just made you look good…”
I advanced as Megumi stepped back, and unleashed my finishing line.
“In other words, you still doubt my words even after crying so much! Certainly, there might be some exaggerated elements, but that’s a different matter! I clearly agreed to go along out of the goodness of my heart, but to think that you’d doubt me so! Aah, I’m really hurt! I can’t believe you’d distrust me like that!”
“A-Ah!? T-That’s not my intention…”
I adopted an expression on the verge of tears and looked at Megumi.
“Apologize! Apologize for suspecting me! It’s only natural that everyone would have their own version of events, so hearing different stories is just to be expected!”
“Yeah, apologize! Apologize for suspecting Kazuma! Though it felt like Kazuma was in the wrong this time, it’s really not that clear now. But anyway, apologize.”
“While you are at it, apologize for your name too! Thanks to you, I went through a lot yesterday!”
For some reason, Aqua and Megumin joined in with lecturing her.
Just as Megumi is about to give in and apologize…
“Wait a minute! Do you really think you can fool us so easily!? And don’t apologize, Megumi! You’re just being led along!”
“Y-Yeah! Thinking about it, I’ve done nothing I need to apologize for. Plus, I’ve heard all about you! Everyone in your party is a defective adventurer who does nothing but cause trouble!”
After being snapped out of her spiel by Ozuma, Megumi glared at me.
Dammit, and here I thought I’d be able to wrap things up quickly. Guess it won’t be so easy.
“Just what is your problem? I might have made too much of a few things yesterday, but none of what I said is a lie. I am a proper, upstanding adventurer, Satou Kazuma! My lifestyle isn’t one that causes trouble for others, and I have no reason to be lectured by you. If you’re done with what you want to say, then leave.”
I shooed Ozuma away, who gritted his teeth before replying.
“You scoundrel, the reason we are here in the first place is because your reputation is causing trouble for us!”
…Come to think of it, I recall them saying something similar when we first met.
Darkness gave Ozuma a reassuring smile and said.
“I’ve heard that you’ve suffered from Kazuma’s bad reputation, but would you mind telling me exactly what happened? My name is Darkness. My class is a Crusader and I am a faithful worshiper of Eris. Thus, it’s my duty to settle disputes. If you don’t mind, you can lay your problems to me.”
“Ah, so you are Larkness’s knockoff!”
Darkness stepped back in shock.
“You are even introducing yourself with the same lines! Isn’t this solid proof?”
“Even the colour of your eyes and hair are the same! I’m surprised that you can introduce yourself as a Crusader when you have a name like Darkness that’s more fitting for a Dark Knight.”
With Ozuma’s mockery, Darkness seemed to shrink back and sulk.
“Darkness, get a hold of yourself! Don’t worry about it, I thought that Darkness as a name sounded a little dark when I first heard it, but it’s quite cool sounding once you get used to it! And your real name is really cute too, so there’s no reason to be depressed, Darkness.”
“In other words, my name sounds like a name you’d give to a knockoff… Dark Knight… Darkness… Haha, Megumin, what do you think of Darkness as a name?”
“Of course it sounds cool… Hey, wait. why are you suddenly crying!?”
This isn’t good. With just a name, our group has been thrown into chaos.
“Seriously… Challenging us just because our names sound a little similar. What a childish act. As a Crimson Demon, I would be glad to answer any challenge, but… The power of my spell is strong enough that even if I hold back, I won’t be able to guarantee your survival. That’s why…”
Megumin’s eyes glowed a fiery red as she stood in front of Darkness like she was shielding her.
Treating her warnings of holding back as a mere boast, Ozuma gave her a smirk.
Yeah, she’s usually the most hot headed amongst us, yet she is…
“Adventurers should settle things like adventurers. How about a contest? Whoever can gain the approval of others and convince them that you are the real deal wins.”
Megumin, whose name seemed most like a knockoff out of all of us, made such a suggestion.
ーAfter Ozuma and his party left.
I gave Megumin a broad smile and said.
“Well done, Megumin. As expected of the person with the highest intelligence in our party, that’s quite the trick you cooked up.”
Megumin returned my smile.
“You aren’t too bad yourself for understanding what I’ve planned so quickly. Indeed, Axel is our home. It wouldn’t matter how hard they work, compared to us who have known them for a long time, it’s clear who the citizens of Axel would see as the knockoff.”
It looks like this girl isn’t just an explosion maniac.
Even though she thinks of nothing but Explosion Magic all day, she can still be pretty smart every now and then.
“And it’s winter right now. Only strong monsters will be active in this season. We can just sit back and relax. I don’t know how strong they are, but no one can survive fighting against winter monsters for long. I wonder how long they will last…”
Megumin and I shared a laugh.
“You know, somehow I feel like we are the knockoffs right now.”
After that, we spent two weeks living an indulgent life in the mansion.
“Yay, it’s done. Take a look. These are the silver arrows that I made with my Crafting skill to kill time. It should be quite effective against undead, devils, werewolves, and other wolf type creatures. Seems like I’ve added one more item to the ‘Kazuma-san’s side job series’ catalogue.”
Aqua looked at me out of the corner of her eye as I laid out my arrow on the table in front of the fireplace.
“As always, it’s pretty well made. But, what do you intend to do with it? If you want to hunt devils or the undead, I’m all for it. Are we heading to Wiz’s store next?”
“Just who are you planning to test this on? Anyway, I’ve only made just the one right now, so let’s keep it safe for now.”
I carefully transferred the arrow to my quiver, and Aqua, stretching lazily on the sofa, said.
“Hey, Kazuma, we don’t have anything to do anyways, so why don’t we head to the guild for a change?”
“… Yeah, the only times I’ve gone out recently is to accompany Megumin on her trip or to buy stuff. Spending some time with the others sounds nice.”
After noon, the four of us headed to the guild.
The moment I opened the door…
“As expected of Ozuma-san! I have lost count of how many one strike bears you’ve killed. With this, the villagers nearby will be able to live out the winter without worries.”
“Not bad, Ozuma! Would you mind treating me to a drink!?”
“Megumi, I heard it was you who dealt the finishing blow with your spell! Do you mind coming with us to gain some levels next time? Of course, I’ll compensate you.”
“Larkness-san, thank you for saving me back then! This is just a small token of my appreciation!”
The cheerful noises from within the guild overwhelmed me.
Wait a minute. Ozuma? Megumi? Larkness?
“Ah, you finally appeared, you bastard!”
Just as I was still struggling to come to grips with what I’m seeing, the man who was standing at the center of the circle of adventurers saw me and called out.
That man had a very rugged look, and seemed really familiar somehow…
“Ah, that’s right! We were in some kind of competition, right!?”
“Stop joking! You were the ones who suggested it in the first place!”
Oh, yeah, we were in the middle of a contest with a bunch of guys who were calling us knockoffs.
Still, what is the meaning of this? How could they be praised so highly in this town that has become my home?
“Hey, Megumin, this isn’t what we expected. They seem to be more capable than we thought. At this rate, we might really end up being regarded as the knockoffs.”
“W-What should we do? Can we change the contents of the challenge now? If we were playing a board game, I’m confident that I won’t lose…”
Just as Megumin and I whispered, Ozuma walked up to us.
“So, are you satisfied now, knockoffs? The most capable party here is us, so is it settled now?”
“Wait a minute, don’t you feel any shame over using the time while we are recuperating to get a leg up?”
“What are you talking about!? This entire thing was your idea!”
Dammit, Megumin’s knockoff is actually quite smart. They weren’t swept up into our rhythm so easily this time.
“So, do you want to admit defeat? The name Kazuma is hardly ever mentioned in the guild these days!”
Ozuma gave me a victorious smile.
“You ungrateful bastards! What did I treat you all those times for!? Can’t you back me up a little more!?”
“What are you saying!? You hardly even show up in the guild these few weeks!”
“Sure, you might have treated us many times, but you cause almost as much trouble for us as your Aqua, so we are even! I don’t know what kind of contest you two are having, but if you want me to support you, then buy me a drink!”
These guys are no good. Fellow adventurers my ass, I can’t rely on them at all.
Larkness strode up to me.
“This should be enough, young man. Our original reason for coming here is to lodge our complaints to you, but there is one other matter. With this, it should be clear that we are the stronger party. Now, please listen to our requestー”
“Please, somebody help! Is there a priest here!? Acure-san!? Is Acure-san here!?”
A female adventurer supporting her bloodied companion barged into the guild.
“If you are looking for me, I’m right here.”
Aqua, who was standing by the door, called out to the new arrival.
“Acure-san…! Oh, it’s just Aqua-san…”
“Apologize! Apologize for being disappointed after seeing me! Don’t you want to heal that person!? My healing magic is the best in the world!”
Ozuma and his party rushed over upon seeing the new arrival.
Ozuma seemed to have been able to tell just how wounded the man was with a glance, and sadly shook his head.
Acure pushed aside Aqua as she complained to the adventurer, and hurried to attend to the wounded.
“… He was attacked by a white wolf, right? Regrettably, this wound is…”
Acure said and closed her eyes, but prepared to use healing magic in order to ease the pain…
“Sacred Highness Heal!”
Before she could cast a spell, a white light enveloped the adventurer.
Ozuma and his party yelled in surprise after seeing the man’s injuries close up.
“See that!? Aqua-san can properly heal wounds too! Now apologize! Apologize for ignoring me and seeking some new girl instead!”
“T-Thank you very much, Aqua-san! I get it, I get it. I’ll treat you to a drink next time!”
Ozuma and his party looked on with unbelieving eyes as the adventurer thanked Aqua.
“Really? Don’t forget to buy me some snacks to go with the wine too. The fried frog’s tongue Kazuma mentioned before sounds really interesting, so please buy that for me as well.”
“Understood, but don’t drink too much. I don’t have that much money on me.”
After listening to the cheap price that Aqua was willing to settle for, Acure stumbled backwards in shock.
Still, white wolf, huh?
White wolves are carnivorous monsters that only appear in the winter, and I doubt the timid adventurers in this town would willingly approach such a dangerous monster…
“W-Wait, Kazuma, are you seriously willing to accept only a few drinks in payment? And I heard something about sacred highness or something like that earlier…”
Just as Ozuma whispered to me.
The injured adventurer regained consciousness and looked around.
“This place is…? Ah, my wound is healed… Acure-san? Did you heal me?”
Upon seeing Acure who was hugging herself, the man blushed and asked.
“Did you think it was Acure-san? Too bad, but the person who healed you is Aqua-san!”
“Dammit, that was such a good atmosphere too…”
Hearing the man’s complaint, Aqua grabbed his neck.
However, sitting next to her, Acure, who seemed completely dumbstruck, gazed silently on.
“Argh, wait! Aqua, you can strangle him later. I have something to ask him. Hey, why were you attacked by a white wolf in the first place? I know you aren’t very skilled, but I’m sure you at least know not to approach their hunting grounds, right?”
“If you guys didn’t just heal me, I’d be picking a fight right now. Er, well, you see… The white wolves suddenly appeared near the town in numbers that are unthinkable just last year.”
At the man’s words, the surrounding adventurers glanced at each other.
“This world has something called an ecosystem.”
The snow covered fields outside of Axel shimmered with a pure white glow as far as the eye could see.
Ozuma and I left the guild and arrived here along with a small band of adventurers.
“White wolves frequently fight with One-Strike Bears in the winter. In a one on one match, the bear would win, but not against a group. One strike bears that come out during the winter in search of food frequently come into conflict with the wolves because of food scarcity. As a result, their population is kept stable.”
I said to myself, and Ozuma, walking next to me, lowered his head.
“So that’s why you hole yourselves inside during the winter… But we…”
He seemed very despondent.
If I told him that I pretty much just said something that sounded believable, he’d probably kill me.
“True, normally, white wolves wouldn’t come this close to human settlements. It might very well be as Kazuma said… Though, it feels very much like Kazuma is lecturing Ozuma-san right now…”
Megumin agreed with me, softly mentioning something unnecessary under her breath.
“In any case… There are just way too many of them! We should go back, prepare a proper plan of attack and come back with more adventurers. With Aqua-san’s healing magic, there shouldn’t be any lasting casualties!”
Megumi pointed towards the large pack of white wolves in the distance, that were also looking in our direction.
“Come on, it’s not that big of a deal. You can handle that without any problems, right, Megumin?”
“It’ll be a piece of cake.”
Ozuma and his party seemed taken aback after hearing what we just said.
“W-Wait a minute! I don’t know what kind of spells you are planning on using, but against such numbers, a spellcaster would easily be singled out. Let Ozuma and me buy some time first…”
Saying that, Larkness removed the shield from her back and took up stance.
“No, leaving the white wolves aside, there’s no way you’ll be able to withstand Megumin’s spell. It’d be best for me to go forward alone.”
Saying that, Darkness strode out to the front.
“Wait, are you really okay with that? Kazuma? Your companionー”
Perhaps out of concern for Darkness, Ozuma said in a slightly panicked tone.
“Our Crusader is extremely hard. Not only can she take a blow from a Demon King’s general, she can even withstand a hit from Explosion. If there is a blow that she cannot withstand, I don’t think anyone else can.”
I said to put Ozuma at ease, but for some reason, Ozuma gulped and seemed even more nervous than before.
“Well, if anything happens, I bring her back in a jiffy with Resurrection, so don’t worry.”
Once again, Ozuma and his party seemed at a loss for words.
It’s also at this point when I noticed that they seem to be looking at me with a gaze of anticipation.
Why are they looking at me like that?
What, are they expecting me to pull out some amazing trick, too?
Apologies, but the only flashy skill I know is Steal. I don’t have anything amazing like those other three.
And white wolves are stronger than the average monster around these parts. Without finding a weak spot or two, there’s nothing much I can do…
“Kazuma, that must be the alpha of that pack. It looks a little larger than the rest.”
I used my Farsight skill to take a closer look at where Darkness is pointing.
“I see, it really is bigger than the rest. There are also a few female wolves around it. That is definitely the leader of the pack.”
Ozuma muttered to himself.
“…I see, the Farsight skill.”
Is there a way to take out the alpha from a distance…
Just then, I was reminded of something and retrieved an arrow from my quiver.
Acure, the priest, seemed to notice something about the arrow and muttered.
“… Did you already expect such a thing to happen as a result of our actions and made preparations…”
He seems to have some kind of misunderstanding.
“… I hoped I wouldn’t have to use this arrow when I made it…”
There’s no reason for me to correct him, and Ozuma and his party’s gaze became one of admiration.
“Hey, Kazuma, didn’t you say you made that arrow because you were bored?”
“Aqua, I’ll buy you your favourite wine when we get back, so please be quiet.”
After whispering to Aqua, I nocked my bow.
The pack of White Wolves seemed to notice my action and charged towards us.
“Megumin, start chanting your magic! I’ll take out the alpha, but if they don’t back down after that, we’ll have to rely on you! Darkness, buy us some time with your Decoy skill!”
“Very well, I’ll vent all my frustrations over not being able to take out any monsters as of late! Behold my ultimate spell, Explosion!”
“Don’t worry, I will definitely not let them pass. Go ahead and take me with them!”
Megumi looked at Megumin with a disbelieving expression as she started chanting at my command.
“A-Are you serious!? Explosion magic…”
She said as beads of nervous sweat started flowing down her face.
“Come to think of it, back when we had the fight outside the mansion, the little mage girl said ‘The power of my spell is strong enough that even if I hold back, I won’t be able to guarantee your survival’. So that wasn’t just an empty boast…”
Ozuma muttered under his breath while gazing into the distance.
“Kazuma, I’ve cast support magic on you, so go right ahead!”
“My luck is second to none! Leave that guy to me!”
After receiving Aqua’s support spell, I let my arrow loose with Snipe.
It flew unerringly to the alpha’s forehead, killing it immediately.
A normal arrow probably wouldn’t have worked this well. I’m not sure what else I can use it on, but I think I’ll try and make a few more of them for future use.
Though, this success is also in part thanks to the high luck I was born with.
“The other wolves haven’t retreated! They are still coming towards us… No, to that Crusader lady!”
As I was mentally congratulating myself, Ozuma shouted in a panic.
At the same time, Megumin gave me a look.
It’s the Explosion Magic that I’ve borne witness to so many times.
Even without words, I already know she’s completed her chant.
“Megumin, do it.”
The moment Megumin heard my call, she unleashed her spell.
A portion of the snow that covered the fields evaporated into a thick fog in an instant, and the resultant shockwave sent snow flying across the entire plain.
“We are really sorry for challenging you!”
Ozuma bowed and apologized after we took out the white wolves.
“N-No, no, it’s fine. Well, As long as you understand that. Just don’t come smashing on our door again!”
Seeing their attitude make a 180 degree turn, I took the chance to put on airs.
“Really, thanks to you, my reputation as the healer of Axel was almost taken away! Hurry up and apologize! This is the nickname everyone in this town gave to me! Don’t take away my job!”
Aqua, similarly conceited, immediately started demanding an apology. Though, if I’m not wrong, the others only gave her that nickname to butter her up so she would use recovery magic…
Darkness pushed us away and gave them a reassuring smile.
“Still, you went on those extermination quests with the benefit of the town in mind. That is worthy of praise. In the futureー”
“Hah, this is a piece of cake to us! It’s nothing compared to one of the Demon King Generals!”
Megumin, lying on the ground, interrupted Darkness.
Ozuma suddenly broke out into laughter.
“What an amazing person! I bet all those ill rumours about you were spread by those jealous of what you’ve achieved. I’m terribly ashamed to have believed them and traveled all this way to pick a fight with you. My deepest apologies.”
“O-Oh, yeah, well, it’s fine.”
“I’m really sorry. We might not look like it, but we are a fairly famous adventuring party, too. When I first heard rumours about you, I thought it was just someone imitating us to take advantage of our fame. But then the rumours got worse…”
“Yeah, and one of the rumours concerns something very important to us…”
I cautiously asked after hearing Megumi and Larkness’s words.
“The Demon King’s general, Hans. He defeated one of my companions. I travelled far and wide and relentlessly trained myself in order to avenge him.”
What the hell, this sounds just like the backstory you’d give to the protagonist of a story.
Come to think of it, he did mention he had some other matter when he first met me.
Could that be…
“Kazuma-san, I thank you for avenging my companion. I needed to convey this message to you no matter what.”
Saying that, Ozuma fell into a deep bow.
Oh dear, what am I to do?
Compared to us who went to Alcanretia for a vacation and exhibited such petty behaviour earlier, these guys definitely seem more protagonist-like.
“… So did the rest of you become adventurers for the same reason?”
After muttering a short prayer, Darkness asked.
Yes, you are our last hope, Darkness.
I’m counting on you. I did think that your name felt like a Dark Knight’s the moment I met you, but I’m really sorry about that.
“No, I… I was originally a knight charged to defend a territory that was lost to the Demon King’s army. I became an adventurer in order to rebuild my homeland and take revenge for my companions who fell during the battle.”
“I-Is that so…”
Darkness said in a voice filled with respect.
This isn’t good. No matter how you look at it, they seem far more heroine-like than us.
Sensing that she’d be the next to go, Megumi showed a distressed expression.
“As for me, well… The grandfather who gave me my name is a very powerful mage. In order to uphold my family’s legacy, I…”
“Okay, you don’t need to say anything more!”
There’s no way we can win against the descendent of a great mage struggling to live up to his legacy!
“ーI’m really sorry for causing you so much trouble.”
Ozuma said they’ll be heading onwards on their journey instead of returning to the guild.
I sent them off with a smile that was only there to cover up the sense of defeat I felt inside me.
“No, it’s fine. The more famous a person is, the more people would want to slander them. If you run into someone like this along your journeys, please correct him for me.”
Ozuma and his party nodded without a hint of joviality upon hearing my words.
No, no, there’s no need to treat it so seriously.
“If someone dares speak ill of my benefactor, there’s no way I’ll let them go. If people continue spreading such rumours, I’ll be sure to teach them a lesson. After all, the rumours that are going around are just too much.”
I’m an idiot for asking.
Ozuma thought for a moment.
“….Yes, for instance, there is a rumour where you tied your companion up and dragged them behind your carriage, but there’s no way that could be true.”
“I also heard that you stole the panties of your party’s mage. Thinking about it, that’s clearly impossible. She’s your companion, after all, and she’s still quite young…”
No, wait, stop.
“There are even worse rumours, like wantonly using magic to lay waste to the countryside for your amusement, or destroying all the hot springs of Alcanretia… I, I, I also frequently get people coming up to me and saying ‘Larkness, are you a masochist? Can I berate you?’ and other such ridiculous things. Of course, I sent them all packing, but just what is going on…”
“But I believe that there is not a speck of truth in these rumours!”
Acure said with a genuine smileー
ーIt was at this point where the four of us got onto our knees and apologized profusely.