Helping the Crimson magic girl make friends!
Editor: Darkdhaos, RavenSlither, Deus Ex-Machina
“Neh— Kazuma— Where is Darkness—? Isn’t she back yet?”
In front of the fireplace in the living room, Aqua, who was seated on the couch she claimed as her private seat, asked in a bored manner while hugging her knees.
— It had been several days since the verdict had been passed. In order to fulfill her promise, Darkness went off to see the landlord…
But after setting off last evening, she had yet to return.
I remembered the lecherous way the landlord checked Darkness out, and felt stuffiness in my chest.
After all, Darkness would follow her instincts and desires even when she faced a boss of the demon king army, wanting to follow him home.
The situation right now should be to her liking.
I didn’t like Darkness in that way, and didn’t harbor any feelings of love towards her. If she wanted to go off with anyone, I had no right to stop her.
But she stayed out the whole night after saying she was going to fulfill her promise, which meant she stayed in the hotel room rented by the landlord, and was probably…
“Hya— what’s the matter? Hey, what’s wrong with you, why are you screaming while hugging your head! Kazuma, you are already strange usually, but you are acting especially weirdly today!”
As I was screaming and Aqua was alarmed.
— Megumin came to our side while hugging something.
Megumin didn’t say anything to the two of us who were acting noisy, and just held on to that thing quietly.
— Or rather, I had been curious about that since long ago.
The animal known as a cat… That’s what Megumin was holding in her arms.
Megumin didn’t say anything, and just kept staring at us.
“… You want to keep this thing in the mansion?”
“… Yes. This is a good child, and wouldn’t cause trouble for everyone… Is it fine?”
I didn’t know where the cat usually hid itself, but I saw it by Megumin’s side every now and then.
It allowed Megumin to hug it, squinting its eyes lazily.
“It should be fine I guess? I don’t think anyone living here is allergic to cats… Ohh, what’s with this guy, she is good with people.”
I offered my hand to the cat in Megumin’s arm, and she used her paws to play with my fingers.
… This was a dangerous world.
Staying in this party full of problematic children induced a lot of stress.
Maybe I needed a pet that would heal my body and soul.
“That hurts! Why is this cat only clawing me! What is going on, be it the black fur or that arrogant attitude… I can feel the flames of evil emitting from the body of this cat!”
Aqua who was scratched after harassing the cat was furious.
To protect it from the crazy blue haired beast, I took the cat from Megumin’s arms.
I turned my back to Aqua and placed the cat onto the carpet in one swift motion, protecting it.
… Speaking of which, we didn’t finish the fish we had for breakfast.
“Neh, Megumin. What is the name of this evil beast?”
I picked up the plate with the leftover fish from the dining table…
“… What did you say the cat’s name was again?”
“It is Chomusuke.”
… I held the leftover fish and squatted before the black cat… Chomusuke. It must be hard on you to have such a weird owner…
I placed the fish before Chomusuke, but she didn’t eat it immediately, and just sniffed it a little.
“Neh, Megumin. That’s a female cat right? I don’t think that name suits her.”
“No. It’s name is Chomusuke.”
As I listened to the conversation behind me and was looking at Chomusuke.
— Chomusuke spit out a small burst of fire to grill the fish slightly.
… What was that?
I hugged my knees and sat on the carpet, watching Chomusuke eat the leftover fish…
“… Neh, Aqua, this cat can spit fire.”
I told Aqua softly.
Since the cabbages in this world could fly, cats spitting fire wasn’t anything unusual.
“What kind of silly talk is that? Kazuma, are you alright?”
“Cats don’t spit fire. Cats are animals that purrs and meows.”
“That’s right. And they like to eat fish and look cute too.”
I know that.
“No, this thing just spit fire, grilling the fish before eating it.”
“… Kazuma, you must be tired.”
“You were detained in court after all, a lot of things had happened.”
“It’s true! I’m not crazy!”
I yelled while pointing at Chomusuke. Megumin said:
“Anyway, what were you two arguing about just now? If it is about Darkness, she is not a kid anymore, it’s fine even if she didn’t return for a few days. Please calm down.”
Megumin didn’t believe me at all.
“… You are too calm. Do you know what the landlord is doing to Darkness right now? It must be something terrible.”
Megumin scoffed at my words.
“He is a landlord after all, what could someone with such status do to Darkness… Wait, I did hear quite a bit of negative news related to this landlord, but Darkness is an adventurer. I don’t think she will just let him have his way with her.”
This idiot! She don’t understand Darkness at all!
“Children are really naive! You spent so much time together with Darkness and you still don’t understand that pervert? She will definitely say the following to you with a blushing face, ‘Ugh! Even if you have your way with my body, you will never have my heart! I will not yield to you!’”
After Megumin finally got what was going on, she hugged Chomusuke who was biting into the fish.
“Wha, wha, what should we do! Darkness, Darkness is in danger! What should we do Kazuma?”
“She left yesterday and it had already been one night, so it’s too late. Listen up, when Darkness comes back, you have to treat her gently as usual.”
“I, I will! Since Darkness has became an adult, we can’t ask her what happened either, right?”
“Ahwahah…! Darkness… Darkness, she…!”
Aqua clenched her fist to show that we could count on her while Megumin’s face turned pale from helplessness.
If not for Darkness’ actions, I would have been executed. I was grateful for what Darkness did for me and had no grounds to complain, but…
… Ah, damn it!
I stress this again, I didn’t like Darkness that way or had any feelings for her. Even though there were no feelings of love, I couldn’t help feeling frustrated for some unknown reason.
When a female friend hitched up with another guy, that was the complicated feeling I felt back then. At that moment—
“Satou Kazuma! Is Satou Kazuma here—!”
With this angry shout, someone pushed open the door into the mansion suddenly.
The one who pushed the door open in a rough manner was the panting Sena. Her face was red and her shoulders were undulating.
“Hey hey, what are you doing here, there is still some time before the deadline for me to prove my innocence right? Sorry, I don’t have time for you right now, my comrade…”
“You say you have no time for me? Don’t bullshit me! So you really are a minion of the demon king army! You got guts to cause this mess!”
It was a false accusation, but seeing Sena act so agitated gave me an ominous feeling, so I asked cautiously:
“Wha, what do you mean by this mess…?”
“It’s toads! The toads that should be hibernating came out and are moving everywhere outside the town!”
She should be referring to the giant toads that were synonymous with monsters here. But what did such a thing have to do with us…
“Don’t frame us for this. Or you are insinuating that we are controlling the monsters and woke the hibernating toads up? Then show me the evidence for that!”
Megumin moved in front, ready for a quarrel.
“According to the reports from the guild staff, the toad seemed to be fearing something when they emerged from the ground… Speaking of fear, it reminds me of someone casting explosion spell not far from town, terrorizing the citizens.”
Aqua and Megumin made a run for the interior of the mansion, but I grabbed the backs of their collars before they could get away.
“Wait, let me explain, I only did it because Aqua asked me too! I was the one who did it, but the mastermind is Aqua!”
“How sly Megumin! Weren’t you excited when I came to discuss with you? You even said ‘let me show you my power!’”
Grabbing the collar of the two who were turning on each other, I said:
“Now is not the time to fight so disgracefully! Go and clean up the mess you made!”
Looking outside, the town was already covered in snow.
“No—-! I had enough—! I don’t want to be eaten by the toads—!”
Aqua’s scream echoed out loud.
“But to think the toads are still so agile even in this cold weather. They are moving as fast as usual. Both animals and vegetations are strong around here.”
I watched the toads chasing Aqua around on the snow field and commented thoughtfully.
“Because of the harsh environment in this world, all living beings try their hardest every single moment. We mustn’t lose to them; we have to become stronger in order to survive in this dangerous world.”
Megumin answered my words with a serious expression.
— While her body below the shoulders was inside the mouth of a toad.
It might be due to her experience of being swallowed by toads earlier that Megumin remained calm in such a situation and did not resist, allowing the toad to swallow her.
Prior to this, Megumin had already casted explosion magic and took out many toads.
Megumin couldn’t move after exhausting her mana. The toad didn’t continue its swallowing action and stopped moving.
Maybe Megumin’s staff was stuck in its mouth.
“Hold on, I will save you.”
I raised my sword and faced the toad that was eating Megumin.
“No, it’s fine for you to take down the toad chasing after Aqua first. It’s cold outside, I prefer the warmth inside the toad’s mouth.”
I thought this girl was normal aside from her obsession of explosion and didn’t expect her to have such great tolerance.
“Why you… One of your comrades is being swallowed by a toad while the other is being chased around, how could you remain so calm?”
Sena who was here as a witness found this strange and asked stupendously.
That might be so, but this was normal for our party.
I decided to save Megumin later. I stuck my sword into the ground and took out my bow and arrow I purchased earlier.
During the invasion of the mobile fortress, I defeated some golems and raised two levels.
After getting the skill points, I was troubled over what skills to learn. After careful consideration, despite having a tough iron wall in Darkness, we lacked someone who could attack from range.
Megumin could be considered as one, but she could only attack a single time, and might drag Darkness into the explosion.
And so, it would be up to me. I might be weak, but I could learn the skills of all the job classes.
Using the uniqueness of this job, I got the archer Keith to teach me the skills ‘bowmanship’ and ‘snipe’.
As its name suggest, ‘bowmanship’ was a skill that allowed a novice like me to learn how to use bows.
As for snipe, it increased the range of projectiles, raising accuracy proportionally with luck, and was a skill well suited for me.
I nocked an arrow and aimed for the toad chasing Aqua…!
“Kazuma—! Hurry—! Hurry up—!”
Seeing me pull open the bow, Aqua shouted as she fled.
… I felt like letting them chase her for a while longer.
Seeing that I wasn’t intending to shoot the arrow, Aqua ran towards me. It made me feel like I might get in danger too, so I had no choice but to fire the arrow at the head of the toad.
The arrow brushed over the top of Aqua’s head, and pierced the toad’s head.
Aqua who was on the verge of tears continued charging me.
“Well then, I will save you now, Megumin.”
“Neh, Kazuma, were you waiting for me to be eaten just now? Neh, you were going to let the toad eat me right?! And your arrow touched the charm point on my head!”
I ignored Aqua who was pressuring me and pulled out the sword in the ground.
“… Do you always fight in such a dangerous manner? Is… Is this bunch of people really related to the demon king army…?”
Sena was mumbling something as she noted down the ongoing battle.
I raised my sword at the immobile toad to rescue Megumin—
“Wait, there’s toads…!”
Megumin who was sticking out from the toad’s mouth said tensely.
Aqua and I who were facing Megumin turned when we heard what she said.
“… Ah.” x2
Another three giant toads came out of nowhere.
I was cool and collected earlier, but I could feel cold sweat on my back right now.
This was bad, now there were four toads.
In that case, the baits… No, I mean there weren’t enough people to distract the toads.
I could snipe them one at a time if there was some distance, but…!
“Aqua, we will split up! I will pull away and try to dispose of one, you continue luring them!”
“I don’t wanna—! I don’t want to be chased by toads anymore—! You be the bait—!”
“Your attack power isn’t enough to defeat toads, stupid! If we can take one down, there will just be two left! We can stop them with you and Sena!”
“Ehh!? I, I am just here to inspect on you, I shouldn’t take part in the fight…! And are you planning to use a normal person like me as bait?”
As Aqua was wailing and Sena was shouting, Megumin said:
“Excuse me, I am being swallowed gradually now, you can save me anytime now.”
“I’ve had enough, if only Darkness was here! That armored girl wouldn’t be swallowed by toads! When will she come back—!
As I raised my sword towards the toad preparing to swallow Megumin—!
“Light of Saber—!”
— A clear voice echoed on the snow field.
At the same time, a beam of light shone across the body of the toad.
A moment after the light faded away, the toad split in half.
As I was busy dragging Megumin out of the toad’s mouth—
That clear voice announced again.
At the same time, the three toads closing on us caught on fire suddenly, fire pouring out of their mouth as if they were burning from the inside, morphing into bluish white fireballs.
As I Sniffed the fragrance of cooked toad meat, I used ‘Drain touch’ to share some mana with Megumin since I don’t want to carry Megumin who was covered in goo back.
… And so, Megumin managed to stand up, even though she was still a bit unsteady.
In Megumin’s line of sight was a young girl in black robes.
She was probably a year or two younger than me.
The girl I had never seen before was staring at Megumin.
“That was high tier magic just now…! In this town full of rookies, there was someone who could use high tier magic…”
As Sena who was behind me shouted in surprise, I bowed towards the girl before me.
“I don’t know who you are, but thank you for saving us.”
After I thanked her, the girl stole a glance at me, and seemed a little shy as her cheeks blushed.
“I, I wasn’t planning to save you. It’s just that having my rival eaten by a mere toad will leave a bad taste in my mouth, that’s all…”
She lowered her head and mumbled.
“What? You and Megumin know each other?”
After the toads were defeated, Aqua regained her composure and asked that girl excitedly.
“Rather than know each other, we are more like rivals… — Long time no see, Megumin! As promised, I have returned after completing my training! As you can see, I can use top level magic freely now! Alright, it’s time to fulfill the promise I made! I will settle our long time rivalry today!”
That girl said as she pointed at Megumin, she seemed really happy.
What kind of hot blooded development was this.
As for the one who was asked for by name—!
“…? Who are you?”
Megumin who was covered in goo said nonchalantly, making that girl shriek.
On closer inspection, that girl seemed to be dressed in a similar way to Megumin.
The black robes and cloak on her body were similar in design with Megumin’s.
She held a silver staff in her hand, and had a short sword sheathed in her waist.
She was slightly taller than Megumin, and had a thin and proportionate body.
She had a determined expression and looked gentle. She was also a great beauty.
If she was in Japan, she would be the class monitor or the student council president; she gave off a model student kind of feeling.
Her black hair was tied together with a ribbon, and the most striking thing about her were her crimson pupils.
That’s right, her eye colour was the same as Megumin.
“It’s, it’s me! You remember right, we were classmates in the home of the crimson magic academy! Megumin was always the top student, while I was number 2! And I said I would go on a journey to train myself until I can use top tier magic…!”
The crimson magic girl pointed at her own face as she explain frantically with teary eyes.
No, what she mentioned casually just now was amazing.
“… Hey, she just said something we can’t ignore, something about you being at the top of your school.”
Hearing me said that, Megumin smiled softly.
“It has been so long; why are you still saying this? When I first met Kazuma, I already told you I am the best wizard in the crimson magic race. Kazuma was just too dumb to realize the truth. But after knowing me for so long, it is about time for you to believe me right?”
“If someone believed what you said after seeing you covered in goo, I would want to see how that person looks like.”
“Why, why you!”
“Please, please wait a minute!”
Seeing Megumin and I quarreling, the Crimson magic girl interrupted:
“Neh, it’s me Megumin! Did you really forget about me? Try to recall how I was always challenging you in everything in school. And you always said I had to place an adequate bet, and would accept if I bet my lunch! And you conned me of my lunch every time!”
So she had been doing this since ages ago.
I looked at Megumin, and she averted her eyes.
“Neh, I think they will take a long time, can I go back to the guild first? Otherwise, the toads’ meat will go bad. Can I go get the people from the guild to ferry the toads back?”
Aqua said while she pointed at the carcass of the toads.
To be honest, it would be a pain for me to stay behind alone.
But given our current situation, whatever money we could scrounge helped, so it would be better to send Aqua back to settle this.
And that way, Megumin and I would be able to return to the mansion directly, and I could dump Megumin who stunk like the insides of toads into the shower.
“… Hmm. Seemed like you still have much to talk about. Well then, I will take my leave today… Kazuma-san, your adventure today was pathetic, but I won’t throw out the possibility that this was just an act to deceive me… I can’t trust you yet.”
After looking at me with stern eyes, Sena returned to town together with Aqua.
After being left behind on the snow field, I asked Megumin once again:
“And so, why did she keep saying she know you? She seemed to know you very well, so remember her quickly alright?”
“I don’t know her. And she didn’t even mention her name, that is suspicious. This must be the scam Kazuma told Aqua that she mustn’t pull, that ‘it’s me it’s me’ scam. You must absolutely not trust her.”
Megumin pulled on my hand after saying that and wanted to leave.
Seeing that we were planning to leave for town, that girl said in a hurry:
“Wait, wait—! I, I know, it is embarrassing to do this in front of others, but I will introduce myself!… I am Yunyun. An arch wizard, wielder of top tier magic. The one who will be the chief of the Crimson magic race in the future…!”
After Yunyun introduced herself with a blushing face, she flicked her cloak.
Does the Crimson magic race have a culture of making exaggerated performances when introducing themselves?
As she looked at Yunyun, Megumin said to me:
“That’s how it is. She is Yunyun, the daughter of the Crimson Magic village chief. She claims to be my rival during our school days and will inherit that position of village chief in the future.”
“Okay. I am this girl’s adventuring comrade Kazuma. Nice to meet you, Yunyun.”
“So you do remember me!… Hmm, this is strange. Kazuma… san? Erm, why didn’t you laugh after hearing my name?”
Yunyun was confused and asked me timidly.
After getting used to Megumin’s name, I didn’t think much about the weird names of the Crimson magic race.
“Your name is just a bit strange, that has nothing to do with your personality right? In this world, there is someone who has a strange name and leaves a deep impression, but is referred to by the infamous nickname ‘explosion girl with a screw loose’.”
“Is that me? Are you talking about me? That nickname stuck on before I even knew it!”
Hearing me say that, Yunyun showed an astonished and surprised expression:
“… I see, as expected of Megumin, you found a good comrade. You are my rival indeed.”
For some reason, her impression of me seemed to be improving.
“Anyway, do you want to talk about this at another place? It’s inconvenient to talk while standing around here.”
Hearing me say that, Yunyun remembered something, lifted her head and moved away from Megumin and me.
“It’s all because Megumin pretended not to know me; that’s why things seemed so weird…! Megumin, I am here to settle things with you! I am the one who will be the chief of the Crimson magic clan! If I don’t defeat you, how could I be so shameless to take the position of chief in the future! And most importantly!”
Yunyun lifted her hand and said while pointing at Megumin:
“As promised, I learned top tier magic. Next I will be defeating you and getting the title of strongest in the crimson magic clan. That way, no one can fault me when I take the position of chief. I won’t let anyone say I depended on my family connections! Come Megumin, let us duel!”
With resolve in her eyes, Yunyun declared in front of Megumin.
“I don’t wanna. It’s freezing outside, and my body temperature is starting to drop.”
Hearing Megumin said that matter of factly, Yunyun said “Hmmm—-” and stood there stiffly.
“That’s settled then, let’s go back. I will heat the water up, so go wash up first. After your bath, we will all have a meal together.”
After I said that and was about to leave together with Megumin…
“Wait, wait wait! Neh, why? We didn’t see each other for so long, why are you treating me so coldly? Megumin, please duel with me okay—!”
Seeing us move, Yunyun stopped us in a hurry.
“… But I can’t use magic anymore today, my mana is exhausted. And you were planning to duel with me using magic? Kukuku… You underestimate my strength. With just my strength alone, I vaporized eight foolish toads in just one shot. Yunyun, can you do that?”
Megumin lowered her tone, saying this in a Chuunibyou manner. Yunyun looked at me with a surprised expression.
She was probably asking me if this was true.
“Yeah, she did vaporize eight toads with just one spell.”
But she couldn’t move after that and was eaten though.
Hearing my confirmation, Yunyun turned pale and gulped with her head down.
“You weren’t in this town so you might not know… But did you heard about these rumours? A boss of the demon king army was tricked by me and lured to this town by my constant threatening explosion spell casted at his castle, and was defeated. The mobile fortress destroyer that claimed to be invulnerable was blown up by explosion magic in this town!”
After hearing all that, Yunyun alternate her gaze between Megumin and me with fear in her eyes.
… She didn’t lie.
“Well, the boss of the demon king army did came to town because Megumin casted explosion magic daily, and the one who dealt the final blow to the destroyer was definitely Megumin.”
That’s one way to look at the truth…
After I said that, Yunyun’s face turned deathly pale.
“E, E, Even so, I still want to duel! I have to duel…! No matter how slim my chances are, I will keep challenging you!”
Even though she was blinking away tears, there were things she would never back down from. Yunyun was afraid, but she still announced this steadfastly.
Seeing this, Megumin sighed heavily once again.
“… You are really troublesome. How about this, since I can’t use magic anymore today, how about sparring physically? You are an adventurer now, so competing in academic test should be unacceptable for you right? No weapons; we will battle until one of us surrenders… Is that fine with you?”
Yunyun said with a surprised expression:
“… Is that really fine? That Megumin who skipped most of the physical education classes… Could it be… You want to let me win? That Megumin who kept walking before me during lunch, and rob me of my lunch when I challenge her?”
“… You are really a good-for-nothing.”
“… That was a matter of life and death for me. Because of the circumstances in my family, her lunch was my lifeline. If I take the initiative and challenge her, wouldn’t that be the same as extortion?”
Yunyun closed her eyes.
She took a deep breath and smiled brilliantly.
“I understand, we will spar then… I know what you will say next. ‘If you want to challenge me, you have to place an adequate bet!’ The bet this time is this Manatite crystal. This has great purity and has high quality! An item all mages craves for!”
Yunyun took out a small jewel.
With the name mana, it should be jewel that contains mana.
Megumin looked at that thing and gave a satisfied nod.
“Very well, I will accept your challenge! Well then, come at me sis!”
Megumin opened her arms in a taunting stance and announced.
Opposite her, Yunyun lowered her stance and clenched her fists.
From the looks of it, Yunyun has the advantage in size.
Yunyun was taller, bigger and has longer limbs with proportionate muscles; In contrast, Megumin doesn’t look like a proficient melee fighter no matter how loose the standard was.
The impression Megumin gave was a little girl you can find anywhere, a weak mage.
Yunyun closed in slowly.
Megumin maintained her open arms posture, ready to grab Yunyun anytime…
“… Neh, Megumin. Hold on… Erm, you seemed a bit wet and shiny, is that…”
“That’s right~~ it’s goo from the toads.”
Megumin answered Yunyun’s uneasy question immediately.
Yunyun’s face became twisted immediately, but Megumin ignored her and continued:
“Thank you for saving me just now. This slimy thing all over me are fluids secreted from the stomach of the toad… Enough about that, attack me. The moment you come near, I will hug you without reservation, and wrestle with you.”
Megumin declared with her arms wide open, advancing slowly bit by bit while Yunyun backs away with a disgusted face.
“Me, Megumin? Don’t joke like this, you are not serious right? This is just a strategy to diminish my will to fight and trick me to surrender right? Right? You always do that when we were in school. I, I won’t be fooled anymore!”
Yunyun put on a strong front as she backed away, but Megumin got closer to her slowly, her crimson eyes shining.
Megumin’s face looked like a kid who wanted to pull a prank on a friend.
“We are friends right? Real friends must go through thick and thin together.”
When she heard what Megumin said, Yunyun turned back and ran.
Megumin chased after her.
“Surrender! I surrender! I will give you the mana crystal, so please don’t come over!”
Megumin smeared goo all over Yunyun, making her leave in tears. We made our way back to the mansion.
“Ah, Kazuma, take this. It should sell for a good price. Clear some of the debts with this.”
On the way back, Megumin gave me the Manatite crystal.
I remember Yunyun saying this was something any mage would want.
“Is that fine? Why not keep and use it? I don’t know how to use it though.”
Megumin laughed softly when she heard my question.
“Manatite crystal is a convenient item that could take the place of mana when casting spells. But it is just a consumable item. From the purity and size of that crystal, it is not enough to sustain the massive mana expenditure of explosion spell. That thing is precious for normal wizards, but useless to arch wizards like me who cast magic on a grand scale.”
She’s saying this so arrogantly…
“… Isn’t that a good thing? Neh, I will say this any number of times, don’t you want to learn skills other than explosion…”
“I don’t intend to.”
“I thought so.”
Hearing Megumin’s immediate reply, I sighed heavily.
Never mind, I couldn’t force her. And there were times when she was dependable too…
…… Were there ever such a time?
There girl named Yunyun used high tier magic.
She took down the toads elegantly in no time.
And apart from magic, she looked pretty good too. A pretty face and a nice body.
Compared to that excellent mage…
“… What is it? Why are you sighing… Aside from powerful magic abilities, the Crimson magic race also has high intelligence. I can tell what Kazuma is thinking about.”
Seeing me sigh as I walk, Megumin asked with a face full of doubt.
“… I was thinking that… compared to that girl, Megumin is much prettier.”
“Thank you for your compliment! As thanks, I will give you a tight hug!”
“Stop, stahp! Don’t come near me, you still stink like a toad!”
— I opened the door to the mansion and saw that Aqua had not returned yet.
I was hoping to find Darkness here, but there was still no sign of her.
My back was feeling all sticky so I walk briskly towards the shower room.
“Ugh… It stinks… This was the first time I am unhappy about a hug.”
“You should be happier about it. Some people are willing to pay for a girl covered in goo to hug them.”
Megumin who was following behind me said nonchalantly.
— As I headed into the changing room, Megumin tugged on the corner of my shirt.
“The goo is making me uncomfortable, let me bathe first.”
“I am uncomfortable too, and this is your fault. And if I don’t go in first, there is no way to heat the water up. Our heater needs mana to work, so you can’t use it since your mana is depleted. The mana I shared with you can only produce lukewarm water. If you understand, wait obediently in front of the fireplace for me to finish.”
I waved my hand, gesturing Megumin to leave. She said with a displeased face:
“If I don’t wash away the goo and sit before the fireplace, my robes will stink after it dries. Haven’t you heard of ladies first? Men should take care of ladies.”
“I am someone who sincerely wishes for equality for all genders. I hate people who push for chivalry when the situation benefits them, and complain about men when they are at a disadvantage. And if you are not old enough to be a lady anyway.”
“Ah! You are treating me like a kid! We are just three years apart okay! Ten years later, we will be 23 and 26, there’s not much difference…”
“The future is the future, the past the past. I am a man who live in the present. In my eyes, you are a child right now, that’s it. Alright then— I will be the first one to shower!”
As I was saying this, I headed into the bathroom and light the magic heater. I then took off my shirt that was covered in goo.
“You are really stripping!”
Megumin was surprised by my actions, but I didn’t feel anything about a kid seeing my naked body.
“I will need to charge if you want to watch anymore. I will not back down. Never.”
Megumin bit her lips vexingly, and then laughed when she remembered something.
With a smile confident of victory, she taunted:
“… I see. I understand, Kazuma doesn’t see me as a woman right now. Then how about bathing together. Since you don’t see me as a woman, there should be no problems right?”
“You are right, there won’t be any problems if we bathe together. I will go in first.”
Seeing me reply nonchalantly, Megumin who made the suggestion was surprised.
“Ex, excuse me, shouldn’t the next development be you saying something shyly like ‘Id, idiot, it will be nice if we can actually do that’, and then let me go first unwillingly right?”
“Why do I have to follow such a cliche script? Let me tell you first, I won’t be restrained by normal practices. Let me give you an example. Let’s say Megumin falls for me. And some other girl starts flirting with me and Megumin become jealous. If you use violence on me unreasonably, I will not hesitate in fighting back. I will do the right thing when the time comes, you better remember that.”
“… I underestimated Kazuma. Don’t worry, I will never fall for you. And that’s not how you use the phrase ‘do the right thing at the right time’, but never mind.”
After stating her piece, Megumin seemed to had given up and walked out of the bathroom. And so I…
“Oh? After taunting me about it, you are not going to bathe together with me? You gutless girl. That’s why I see you as a kid.”
“You say I have no guts? How dare you, it’s just bathing together; you think I am scared?! Stop covering with your towel and hurry up!”
“Hey you jerk, let go, don’t pull my towel you pervert! Why are you so open about this! Did that girl Yunyun ever tell you that you are like a boy? You are too carefree about this, watch yourself!”
Megumin took off her robe without hesitation, covered her body with a towel and walked into the bathroom.
For an instance, I thought I saw some sort of tattoo on Megumin’s butt through the gaps of her towel.
“The water is not warm enough pump more mana in, more mana! Come here, hurry up!”
Megumin yelled after putting her hand into the bathtub.
Did I see it wrongly?… Never mind, forget it.
“Fu… it’s nice to bath leisurely during day time… I think I can fall asleep here…”
I soaked my shoulders under the water in the wide tub, and stretched my limbs out to relax.
A big bathtub was the best point about this mansion.
“By the way, are you going to ignore that girl named Yunyun? Hasn’t it been a long time since both of you met?”
“We will meet again soon enough anyway. That girl claiming to be my rival loves to chase after me.”
Megumin soaked her shoulders into the water and kept her chin near the surface of the bath tub. Her eyes were close and she seemed to be enjoying herself.
“The name Yunyun might be a bit off, but she looks cute. For an acquaintance of yours, she seemed to have good manners and common sense.”
“Are you insinuating that I lacked common sense? And she is my age, why aren’t you treating her like a child?”
While keeping her chin at the edge of the water, Megumin opened one eye and stole a glance at me.
Megumin is the same age as that girl… I took a good look at Megumin who was soaking in the bath.
“… Hey, tell me what you are thinking while you are looking at my body.”
“… I am thinking that the speed of growth is different for everyone… Hey, stop that, don’t chant explosion magic! I know you have exhausted your mana, but this is not good for my heart!”
As I said that, I copied Megumin’s posture and moved my chin to the edge of the water.
“But that means she is just thirteen years old. My strike zone is two years younger than me, so thirteen is out. If she is fourteen, that would make us middle two and high one, which is borderline acceptable for me.”
<TL: Middle school year two and High school year one.>
I muttered casually.
“Middle two and high one?… I am not sure what you mean, but I will be fourteen next month. You won’t treat me like a kid after that?”
Megumin who was relaxing in the bath said with her eyes closed…
“… Huh, are you serious? Your birthday is next month? Eh, fourteen? you’re graduating from being a loli character?”
“Who is a loli character! I don’t recall making such a character! And… what’s with you? Why are you acting strange all of a sudden…”
Someone I thought of as an incapable young sister was gradually morphing in my mind into an incapable school junior…
“We, well, I suddenly think this situation is a bit embarrassing.”
“Hey, don’t say that all of a sudden, that will make me feel embarrassed too! What’s wrong with you? Is just one year older that much of a difference? And can you stop stealing glances at me so shyly!?”
Why? It’s so strange, and my heart started racing.
At this moment, I realized I was in an incredible situation.
“… Neh, why am I bathing together with Megumin? Thinking carefully, isn’t this situation bad?”
“Why are you saying this now! Don’t calm down so suddenly!”
Megumin started inching away from me in the pool.
I also backed away from the other end and told Megumin:
“Not that, I mean if someone see us like this, we can’t just laugh it off right? That should be some kind of law or rules governing this. Especially a girl that can’t read the mood will tend to…”
Before I finished my sentence.
From the distance came the voice of that girl who can’t read the mood.
“It’s all your fault Kazuma, saying things that would trigger this flag!”
“Now is not the time to discuss this! Anyway, one of us need to get out now!”
Megumin and I got out of the tub at the same time, and returned immediately.
“Why are you getting out together with me! The towel is soaked, I already saw a lot of you, and you saw a lot of me!”
“You are one to say! I will get out first, you stay in there! Did you lock the door? Did you lock the door into the changing room?”
“No, no I didn’t lock it! Aqua will definitely come here at a time like this! What should we do! Think of something quick!”
What is there to think of, one of us just need to exit the bathroom and it will be fine!
If Aqua was to see us like this, she will definitely not let me off, and give me nicknames like LoliNEET, Lolima and spread it all over town!
“Kazuma—! Megumin—? I am home—! Will someone welcome me back?! I sold the toad and brought the money back—!”
Aqua’s voice was getting closer.
I got out of the bathtub hastily and charge towards the changing room.
As I ran, the thumping footsteps draws near…
“Kazuma—!… What, so you are bathing?”
Aqua seemed to notice I am in here.
The moment before the door to the changing room was about to open, I used all the mana within me and stretched my right hand out, concentrating like never before!
Using all my mana, the ‘Freeze’ I bet everything on froze the door handle of the changing room door in an instant. Fatigue and weakness assaulted me after I exhausted all my mana, and I collapse onto the floor.
“Kazuma— I left both of your share of the money on the table in the living room! Let’s grab a bite after you finish your bath!”
After that, Aqua left without opening the door.
… That make sense. If she knew someone was inside, why would she open the door and look at my naked body, this is not a manga.
“Are… are you okay, Kazuma? Did you deplete your mana? I should say that was a close one. If things escalates…”
“I would be labeled a lolicon. Too close… ah, Megumin, sorry to trouble you, but can you help me wipe my body? I am completely out of mana and can’t move. I will catch a cold if I lie down here.”
I lay face down on the floor, asking for her help without seeing Megumin’s face, but…
“… Hey, why will you be labeled a lolicon if you bathe with me, explain clearly. You have guts to say such things when you can’t move.”
“Hey, stop it asshole! Why are you grabbing my towel! You want to be labeled a pervert?! Hey…! A, Aqua—! Aqua—! There’s a loli molesting me—!”
Aqua barged into the room after hearing me crying for help, and bestowed on me the nickname of LoliNEET.
The second dinner that felt a bit lonely without Darkness ended without incident.
— The next morning.
“… The two of them are out early.”
I muttered to myself when I reached the living room.
After discussing with them last night, we reached the consensus that going on quests without Darkness was too dangerous.
So we decided to act on our own for today.
… Darkness didn’t return last night.
I heard the landlord was very obsessed with her. Was she being detained?
Or she had some accident…?
If she didn’t come back tonight, I would need to take actions.
It was too troublesome to make breakfast for myself, so I decided to eat out. As I was wandering around town, I saw a familiar crimson magic girl.
That girl was strolling along the street while looking at the food in the stalls. She looked as if she wanted to eat.
In the end, she hung around the kebab stall, observing it.
A short while later, a customer came to the stall, chatted with the owner a while, and left after buying three kebabs.
After seeing that, the girl made up her mind, and bought three kebabs just like the previous customer.
… Seemed like this was the first time she was buying things here, and was unsure of how to place orders.
I was hesitating about approaching her, but looking at how happy she was eating the kebab, I decided to leave her alone.
“— Strange monsters are appearing near town, it is not strong, but…”
“Right, I heard about that too. That thing has a weird shape, and will grab onto anything that moves and detonate, right?”
I had breakfast at a random shop, and heard two adventurers talking about this topic while wandering around town.
… Strange monsters?
To me, most of the monsters in this world are strange.
I will be careful of that anyway.
As I was thinking about that while strolling, the girl I saw earlier appeared before me again, walking around the target shooting game stall this time.
The target shooting game was different from Japan. It used real bows, and arrows with a round end. Most of the players were couples, with the guy shooting, and gifting the prizes to the ladies.
I see, couples visit this street often, it’s something akin to the holy grounds of dates.
The stall was targeting lovebirds going on dates.
This was obvious from the prize displayed in front of the store.
That girl was probably too shy to play the shooting game by herself. She waited for all the couples to vacate completely before she started challenging the game.
Maybe she wasn’t proficient with bow and arrows, but she couldn’t hit the prize she wanted no matter how many times she tried.
After that girl challenged many times, another couple came in to play the game. She returned the bow to the owner and was about to leave in shame.
Strictly speaking, her relationship with us should be rather bad since her rival was in my party, but…
I walked towards that girl and said hi casually.
“…? Ah! Erm, hello, Kazuma-san…!”
— I didn’t even look at Yunyun who greeted me, handing my money to the owner of the shooting game stall directly.
Using my sniping skill, I hit the prize Yunyun wanted in one shot.
The prize that was hit and fell was a samurai like doll that looked a little like Jack Frost.
“Here, you want this right?”
I grabbed the prize and handed it to Yunyun a bit cockily.
If I was in Yunyun’s shoes, it wouldn’t be surprising for me to fall for me because of that.
Yunyun’s cheeks turned red and hesitated for a moment, unsure if she should accept.
Moments later, she smiled brilliantly and said:
“Thank… Thank you…”
“Customer, you can’t do that. Can’t you read the sign? No archers and ‘snipe’ ability users allowed. You can keep the prize, but you have to pay me three times the fees.”
— I didn’t looked very cool as I apologized to the owner while topping up the fees.
“Well then, I am still looking for my party mates, see you.”
I was a bit embarrassed, so I raised a hand and said that to Yunyun as I prepare to leave…
“Hmm? Ah… Erm…”
Yunyun looked as if she wanted to stop me, reaching a hand out for me…
But she withdrew her hand halfway, putting it on the doll in her arms and bowed to me.
“Erm, thank you, thank you for getting Jack Frost for me!”
So that doll really is Jack Frost.
Because of my trauma of being killed by that guy, I had the urge to shoot the doll with a real arrow. But since she looked so happy, I will let it go.
— After parting ways with Yunyun, I started strolling around town once again.
With how prominent my party mates were, finding them should be a breeze.
“Alright, next challenger—! Is there no one else—?”
Following the source of that noise, I saw a crowd gathering around a spot.
This piqued my interest and I went closer. I found the people there to be bulky and fit, guys who obviously lifts.
I observed the situation…
“Alright! I’m next!”
The one who stepped up was a man with bulging muscles, who looked like an adventurer.
It was hard to judge what his job was, but from his body type, he was probably a vanguard.
The man picked up the hammer prepared by the store owner…
And swung down mightily.
The hammer slammed on top of a certain rock.
When the hammer impact on the rock, it created plenty of sparks.
After the pounding by the hammer, that rock was…
“Damn, this is still not enough…”
Just as the vexed man said, the rock was as good as new.
When the stall owner saw that, he shouted loudly:
“My friend here didn’t succeed either! The prize is now 125,000 Eris! The entrance fee is 10,000 Eris! For every challenger that loses, the prize will increase by 5,000 Eris! Is there anyone else who is confident in your arm strength? Magic is fine too! This is Adamantite, if you can break this thing, you will be known as a top class adventurer! Come, is there anyone else who wants to test their might?”
I see— business comes in all sorts of form.
As I was contemplating on starting a business myself, this was a good place to learn.
But with my skill and strength, it was pointless for me to challenge this.
… In the direction I was looking at incidentally, I said to the figure I saw for the third time today:
“… We meet again, Yunyun.”
Seeing Yunyun who was clenching her fist as she watched the adventurer swung their hammer, I greeted her on reflex.
She claimed to be Megumin’s rival, so I thought she will be hostile towards me. But from her reaction, I didn’t think she disliked me.
Yunyun saw me…
“Ah! Thank you for your help just now Kazuma-san! Look at that! Everyone is taking up the challenge of smashing the adamantite!”
She said with her eyes sparkling.
In the village of the crimson magic clan, are there no gaming stalls like this?
“Yunyun can use top tier magic right? Want to give it a try? The owner said spells are permitted.”
After hearing that, Yunyun said:
“I can’t break adamantite with my powers… That requires powerful implosion magic. Leaving the destructive explosive explosion spell aside, implosion magic should be fine. But using explosion magic is the safest bet…”
She said with a wry smile.
As we were chatting, more people went up to challenge and failed.
The prize money was over 200,000 before we knew it.
The crowd was getting bigger, and the owner of the stall yelled to raise the tension higher:
“Is adamantite too difficult for the people in this town? I came here because I heard this town took down the mobile fortress destroyer! Is there no one who could break this stone? Hey hey hey! Is there no other challenger?”
As the stall owner was getting into his groove, the adventurers pushed each other, gesturing for each other to take up the challenge.
Everyone knew what the stall owner’s tactic was, but it still felt vexing if no one breaks the rock.
— As the adventurers on scene stared at each other.
One young girl step forth from the crowd.
She wasn’t in her usual robe, but a black dress for traveling in town. My party mate moved forward and puffed out her chest.
She had the same determined arrogant face she had when she faced off against the destroyer.
“— The main character’s turn.”
The moment Megumin said that, all the adventurers including me rushed in to restrain her.
“Hey, I’m just an innocent girl, treating me like this is too much.”
I locked Megumin’s arms and neck from behind, ready to cover her mouth if she started chanting.
On either side of her was well built adventurer grabbing her hand tightly.
“Hey old man, stop doing your business since this girl noticed you! She is an infamous explosion maniac in town. Your business is too stimulating for her!”
Hearing me said that, the stall owner turned pale and started packing in a panic.
Megumin started struggling when she saw that.
“Ahhh! I can break it! I can definitely break that stone with my explosion spell!”
“Run! Hurry old man!”
After finished packing, the stall owner started sprinting at full speed.
Megumin saw him off with a face of regret.
After confirming the old man had escaped, we released our hold and Megumin regained her freedom.
As the crowd disperse, I said to Megumin:
“… Really, for people who gets into trouble while I am not looking, Aqua is more than enough. Anyway, you are not together with Aqua?”
“Nope, she wanted to go somewhere else so we split up. The payout from defeating the destroyer gave the town an economic boost, gradually attracting all sorts of people here. There was someone performing in the streets for money from tips, but he was driven to tears when Aqua did free performance that was more amazing beside him.”
How, how pitiful…
I thought about doing something about that girl, but it would be a bother if I got entangled in their squabbles.
He might be pitiful, but I decided to leave Aqua to that busker..
Megumin tugged on my sleeve.
“Let’s walk together since we ran into each other. There is someone over there who is doing something similar to the guy that ran off. I want to loiter around him to scare him.”
“I thought you are a girl with common sense aside from your explosion maniac personality.”
As Megumin and I chatted as we prepared to leave, we heard someone calling out to us from behind:
I turned back and saw Yunyun looking at us with a lonely expression.
“… Want to come along with us?”
Yunyun made a happy expression for an instance when I said that, but she reverted back when she saw Megumin and shook her head.
“I, I came to this town in order to defeat Megumin! I’m not here to build a friendship with her! I am grateful for the shooting game just now, thank you very much! But… I can’t come along with you two!”
Yunyun hugged the doll that I hated before her chest and took a large step away from us.
“Since she doesn’t want to, let’s go Kazuma.”
When we left, Yunyun seemed to be rejecting us, keeping her back to us.
In the end, Yunyun let out a depressed sigh, slumped her shoulders and walked away with heavy steps.
She then look back longingly.
… And locked eyes with the two of us who were walking a few steps behind her after we brought something like crepes from the stall nearby.
“…… Erm, why are the two of you following me?”
“I was thinking that I will be able to see your lonely and sulking face if I follow behind the Yunyun who is alone as usual.”
When she heard that, Yunyun pounced on Megumin.
“Among the Crimson magic race, Yunyun was well known for being ashamed of being a weirdo that is ashamed of her own name. In school, she spent most of her time eating alone. If I loiter around Yunyun who was eating alone, she will happily challenge me, works every time…”
“Wait! It’s, it’s not that bad… it shouldn’t be… right… fine, it’s true, I challenged you every day, but I am not lonely at all, I have friends too.”
The three of us chatted as we walked out of town.
After talking for half the day, the two of them decided to have another duel.
Megumin stopped when she heard Yunyun said that.
“I can’t just ignore what you just said… Yunyun… have friends…?”
“Why, why are you reacting like this! I have friends too alright! Megumin should know too. Like blah and blah, they say we are friends, I even invited them to lunch before…”
Hey, stop it, I can’t bear hearing anymore.
… This seemed to be the situation. The Home of the Crimson magic was full of weirdos, and this child was the only one with common sense, so she stood out from everyone else.
“And so, what shall we compete in today? I can only use explosion magic, so I don’t really want to fight with spells.”
“… That’s right. You should learn some other spells too. You should have saved quite a bit of skill points by now.”
“I did. I used all of them for ‘explosion power raise’ and ‘speed chanting’…”
“Idiot! Why are you so obsessed with explosion magic!”
Good, tell her more.
“But that’s really troubling… what should we duel in…”
As Yunyun was troubling about that, Megumin said:
“Anything is fine, I am not a kid that is bothered by winning or losing anymore.”
Hearing the loli say that casually, Yunyun smirked softly.
“Not a kid anymore? I remember we competed in our degree of growth before. Since you say you are not a kid anymore, want to try that again?”
Facing Yunyun’s taunt, Megumin simply said:
“No, I mean I am not a kid anymore in another way. My relationship with Kazuma had progressed so far that we even bathed together before.”
“Hey! Shut it, don’t tell others about that!”
After hearing my conversation with Megumin, Yunyun’s face turned red, her mouth open and shut and her entire body turn stiff.
“… It’s, it’s my loss today—!”
After saying that, Yunyun ran away in tears.
Megumin and me stood in place for quite a while.
Megumin then took something out and started writing.
Looking closely, it looked like a notebook.
She wrote the date for today and marked a small circle beside it.
“I won today too.”
“You, you… Is this really fine…?”
— After seeing Yunyun running off wailing, Megumin and I decided to return to the mansion.
“Ara, you are back. Neh, look look. There was a guy busking in the streets, he said he don’t need it anymore and gave it to me. He seemed to be planning to inherit the farm in his home town. I don’t understand why, but that is lucky!”
When we got home, I saw Aqua sitting on the couch in the living room, toying with some trinkets happily.
After breaking the heart of the busker, she took his tools of the trade.
I wanted to tell her not to disrupt the lives of other people, but…
“Darkness is still not back… She should be coming back tonight right…”
Watching Aqua playing deftly with the trinkets, Megumin muttered.
— In the end, Darkness didn’t came back today.