Sorry for the lateness! I started this yesterday and editing just finished!
Also, do read Chapters 1-3 of the Continued, Explosion spin-off if you haven’t already!
Editors: Ruzenor, Deus-ex-Machina
Chapter 2: Teaching these Sheltered Ladies!
After being sent to the capital through ‘Teleport’, we arrived in front of a familiar castle.
The two guards standing in front of the castle looked at us with dubious gazes.
“Halt! Those who do not have business here may not enter! This is not a place for adventurers!”
I handed Iris’ letter to the two oppressive guards as if I was showing them an insignia.
“I am the Satou Kazuma, an adventurer from the town of Axel. We have taken a request from princess Iris. Is there a problem?”
Seeing the royal insignia on the envelope, the faces of the two guards turned pale, and they immediately readjusted their posture.
“E-, Excuse my manners…! I will immediately go and call my superiors, so please wait a moment! May I be entrusted with the envelope?”
“Mm, I suppose that’s fine.”
As I showed a slightly overbearing attitude towards the two frightened guards, Darkness poked me with her elbow.
The guard that was confirming the contents of their letter, slightly tilted his head.
“Huh, the letter inside is rather damaged. This is…?”
“My, please don’t mind it! You know, a lot of things happen when you’re an adventurer right? You get it? Monsters and stuff you see!”
“Ahh, I see… Well then, please wait a moment at the waiting room over here.”
There’s no way that I could tell them that I ripped a letter from royalty to shreds out of rage. I meekly followed one of the guards to the waiting room.
As everyone was getting themselves seated as they liked, the eyes of the guard that brought us here began to shine. He informed us about the rumor that was spreading through the capital.
“—With regards to Satou Kazuma-dono, your name has recently become famous in the capital you see? I heard that, you lent your aid to the fortress at the very front line, which had come under the leadership of Dustiness-sama, and led our forces to victory in a seemingly trifling series of battles. It is often said that; Carrying tact, cleverness, and a countless number of skills, is the leader, Kazuma-dono. Together, with the crusader, Dustiness-kyo, a lovely arch-wizard whom carries an amazing amount of magic power, and finally a plasterer, your group is an amazingly skilled party.”
“Hey, I just wanna say that you left out the existence of the lovely archpriest.”
In any case, we were also the party that laid to rest the greatest number of demon king army generals.
Rather, it’s weird that our name wasn’t well-known until now.
“Although only the names of Kazuma-dono and Dustiness-kyo could be determined, could it be that the person over there is the rumored great magician that uses explosion magic? Despite having played an amazingly active role in the incident, for some reason, her name is still unknown. As a result, it is rumored that she is a humble and mysterious person that refuses to stand in the spotlight…”
Hearing what the guard said, Megumin’s face turned slightly red, and her jaw dropped a teensy bit. However, in order to preserve her image as a ‘discreet magician’ she answered in a soft voice.
“…Hm, is there a rumor like that? Well, I suppose it is true to say that I am humble, after all, I give all the money we earn from our adventures to Kazuma.”
“Hey, I just want to say that my name isn’t there either. My name isn’t there despite how worldly famous I am.”
There were probably other reasons that Megumin’s name didn’t spread, but I suppose that, she was ecstatic that she was called ‘humble and mysterious. Well, it seems that her mind had already soared off in that direction.
Seeing Megumin’s attitude, the guard’s eyes began to glimmer as though he was deeply moved.
“A-, Amazing, are you saying that you have no interest in wealth or fame!?”
“Fu… My only desire is to reach to limits of the true essence of magic. When the leader, Kazuma, requires my power, I tell him this: ‘What I desire is the minimum food and other small expenses, and also, a place where my power can be brought to proper use’…!”
This girl, when I was about to kick her out of the party, she cried and begged me, saying that ‘I’m fine with just food and other small expenses, so don’t forsake me!’ with tears in her eyes.
It was then—
“Ahh! He actually came!”
A pained cry emerged from the doorway as the doors to the waiting room were swung open.
Standing there, was a familiar magician that wore a large hood.
It was the noble lady that was entrusted with Iris’ education and protection, Rain.
“It’s quite cruel of you to say ‘he actually came’ isn’t it? I came all the way here because I was called by Iris you know? Generally speaking, wouldn’t it be better to have a nice night banquet to congratulate the party that defeated yet another demon king army general?”
“Um… T-, That is…”
Rain slightly averted her gaze in an uneasy manner. It seems that she understood this as well.
However, that only lasted a fleeting moment, as she pulled Darkness by the arm and left the room. She took a few glances at me, and they began to whisper amongst each other.
‘Dustiness-sama, didn’t you say that you would find some way to make ‘him’ reject this request!? If we leave that person in charge of Iris-sama, foreign relation problems will definitely arise…’
‘I understand. Despite my efforts, his resistance was unexpectedly strong. However, the good thing is that ‘that person’ believes that I won’t do anything more, and has lowered his guard. I’ll drug him when we arrive at the capital of the neighboring nation, so that he will be asleep for the duration of Iris’ stay there.’
‘OOOH, as expected of Dustiness-sama! If that’s the case, then I will rest assured!’
…What exactly were those guys scheming.
Rather, Darkness had been requested to restrict me by the nation itself, huh.
As for the reason I could understand their secret discussion…
“What are you doing Kazuma? Why are you staring at their faces?”
“Ah, I was just confirming the condition of the skill I learned recently.”
Yes, it was thanks to my new ‘lip-reading’ skill.
It was a skill that lets me understand their conversation just by seeing the movements of their mouths.
I originally intended to use it to eavesdrop on the people in the adventurers guild during my free time, and to be honest, there wasn’t any real meaning to this skill. However, I must say that it’s quite a good skill.
Then, from outside the waiting room came a noisy shout.
“Satou Kazuma! Is it true that Satou Kazuma has come!?”
The familiar voice was that of the lady that I have little trouble dealing with.
We immediately turned our eyes to the doorway in response. The great noble whose trademark was her white suit, and was entrusted with Iris’ protection – Claire – charged into the room.
Spotting me, Claire pulled my arm and dragged me to a corner of the room—
“—Oh, what’s up white suit. Are you also against me being a bodyguard?”
I was cautious, but Claire leaned forward and whispered to me.
“Don’t call me ‘white suit’ you imbecile. However, you came at the right time. I give you my thanks.”
“You’re thanking me? Just what has come over you? What are you planning?”
Towards me, who had become even more cautious as a result of her attitude.
“I’m not planning anything. …No, rather, it would be wrong to say that I haven’t planned anything. Oi, you, take this.”
Saying that, she handed the pendant that bore the insignia of her household to me.
This was something that Darkness always kept on herself, so it should be an important thing that was the proof of her nobility.
“…For real, what’s up with you? Despite your usual attitude, could it be that you actually long for me? Well, it’s regrettable for you, but recently I’ve had a good feeling with a certain girl. As a forthcoming and honest man, I cannot allow myself to step any further. Sorry about this, but please give up.”
“You’re truly idiotic, why would I do that! Rather, I haven’t even said anything yet, so why are you already turning me down!”
Claire who rose her voice in exasperation, took notice of her surroundings, and quickly calmed down.
“It’s not like that. Just this time, I feel like you and I can work together. This meeting will have a lot of political implications, but… In the first place, before all of this happened, I was already against Iris-sama’s marriage.”
“Alright, fill me in on the details.”
Seeing that I was prepared for a serious conversation, Claire retrieved something from her pocket.
“The person Iris-sama will be meeting is the first prince of the neighboring country. However, due to his spoiled upbringing and education, he is a truly selfish brat. He is no equal for Iris-sama, who was born with the talent for battle, and surely, his appearance is also incomparable to her adorableness and beauty. Furthermore, the neighboring country of Elroad looks down upon my nation. Should Iris-sama be wedded to him, those imbeciles will surely speak maliciously of her and look at her with contemptuous eyes… That’s why I’ll entrust this to you.”
With a steady gaze, Claire handed a black bag to me.
“It is a forbidden poison that is used by nobles to bury their political enemies…”
I threw the bag away the moment I received it.
“Hey, how much money do you think I spent to get my hands on that!”
“Don’t try to turn me into an assassin! I will gladly help you dissolve the marriage, but I don’t plan to become a sacrificial pawn you know! You…! You’re planning to kill me on a societal level along with that guy aren’t you!?
Claire lightly clicked her tongue.
“I suppose it can’t be helped. Then, I have another thing to request of you besides the bodyguard mission. As long as you have the necklace that I entrusted you with a moment ago, you should be able to freely use the authority of my household, Shinfornea, to a certain extent. For this time, and this time only, you will have the backing of my household. How could I possibly hand Iris-sama to such a suspicious person? Do whatever you have to do to dissolve this engagement.”
“If that’s the case, I’ll gladly accept. How could I stand and watch as misfortune befalls Iris? Please leave this to me. If the person in question is a cheeky, shitty brat, I’ll do whatever I can to get in the way.”
Hearing my immediate reply, Claire’s expression shined with enthusiasm.
“I appear to have misunderstood your circumstances. Please forgive my disrespect towards you until now. I will leave Iris-sama in your hands.”
“It’s nothing, rather, I have a lot of things I’m sorry about as well. It seems like your beliefs towards Iris are the real deal. Despite how I look, I’m a man that has encountered countless amount of powerful enemies. Something of this level is easy-peasy.”
At the very instant we, who had always fought over matters involving Iris, came to a mutual understanding—
Claire and I raised our right hands in unison, and firmly grasped the others’.
“In this situation, I believe that you are the person I can rely on the most. While I cannot leave this nation, I promise you that the rewards will be grand. So I will leave the rest to you.”
“I am grateful to have someone as powerful as you supporting me. As for the rewards; I suppose that when all this is smoothly done, we should come together to discuss how cute Iris was when she was kid over a glass of wine.”
“What an ambitionless man you are. When the time comes, let us talk all the way until the next morning. I will tell you all about how destructive Iris-sama was during her childhood years.”
And so, without a care for our surrounding gazes, we exchanged a smile…
“The two of you seem to be enjoying yourselves quite nicely.”
I immediately looked towards the source of the extremely lonely voice.
At the doorway was a young girl, who – as though she were afraid of strangers – shyly stuck her head out from the side, and peeked at the situation.
At the instant she, princess Iris, and I made eye contact, she bashfully said.
“It’s been a long time onii-sama. I’ve been waiting for you…!”
<TL Note: お待ちしておりました Can mean both, ‘I’ve kept you waiting’ and the current form>
At the interior of the castle, we stood before a simple, yet sturdy-looking horse-drawn carriage.
No, this isn’t a horse-drawn carriage.
There was nothing where the wheels should be, and the one pulling on it weren’t horses.
“Lizard Runners! Kazuma, these are Lizard Runners you know!? Lizard Runners!”
Megumin excitedly pulled on my sleeve.
Yes, the transportation device that looked like a horse-drawn carriage was actually connected to two lizards.
The monsters that looked like the frill-necked lizards that we had hunted as part of a request in the past, looked towards here and began to cry.”
Hearing the cute shout that didn’t suit its appearance, Aqua and Megumin’s eyes began to shine.
“Hm, will we be using the imperial carriage? I heard that this meeting was supposed to be a secret though…”
Darkness, who had seen the carriage, voiced her question.
“Using a normal carriage would take too much time. Using a normal, horse drawn carriage would take ten days of travel to arrive at the capital. However, using this carriage that was specifically designed for royalty, the travel time can be greatly shortened.”
Saying that in a manner that made it feel like she was grumbling about something, Claire raised a hand towards the imperial carriage.
Then, the carriage smoothly rose off the ground. It was now hovering about ten centimeters off the ground.
I see, the reason it didn’t have wheels like a typical horse-drawn carriage was because of this feature.
If the carriage was like this, then there won’t be any drag from the cart as the lizard runners pulled on it. It seems very fast indeed.
“I don’t know what I might do if I couldn’t see Iris-sama for over ten days. A normal carriage would take over twenty days here and back. How could I possibly endure that?”
“If that’s the case why don’t you just come with us?”
Hearing my suggestion, Claire showed a frustrated expression, and said.
“Didn’t I already tell you that this journey was a secret? If there are too many followers, then people will assume that the entourage involves a noble from somewhere. For this reason, the carriage has also been redesigned for a simple appearance. More importantly, as an authoritative figure of this nation, I have duties I need to fulfill. In the end, the affairs of the nation cannot be set aside for any more than a few days you see?”
With this girl as an authoritative figure, I couldn’t help but be worried about the future of the nation.
Then, Darkness got herself to the driver’s seat, and grasped the reins of the lizard runners.
To think that Darkness would be the driver, what a surprise.
Well, I suppose that given that she was a noble, she should at least know how to ride a horse.
The creatures that she was controlling weren’t horses, but Darkness had said that there wouldn’t be any problems.
However, leaving this to this clumsy person, I couldn’t help but feel a bit uneasy…
Anyway, it seems like we were the only bodyguards assigned to Iris.
Well, if the strict and formal people followed along, then they would probably get angry with the way I treated Iris. So this was a blessing in some sense.
It also seemed like that had prepared to travel before we arrived.
Iris – who seemed like she couldn’t wait any longer – was equipped with the armor of the royal family and a dazzling sword. She quickly climbed onto the carriage.
“Please sit here onii-sama! Since the seat beside me will be open, we can play games like before while we travel!”
“Oh? You’re quite an onii-chan’s girl aren’t you Iris. Alrighty, onii-chan will do his best ok!”
Iris, who had climbed into the carriage, signaled to the seat beside her.
Perhaps she was feeling fairly lonely after being separated from me for a long time.
Somehow, I get the feeling that we were closer than when we last saw each other.
Then, Megumin who climbed into the carriage next, moved her face closer to Iris’ and said.
“Oi! How gutsy of you to take the best seat despite being a mere underling! Now, hand over the seat behind the driver that has the best view to me, or I won’t invite you to go play again!”
“H-, How unfair of you! This and that are different problems! Besides, today, I’m not your underling, but a princess! An authority! I will not hand over the seat behind the driver. If you wouldn’t have it any other way, then I’m up for a fight as well!”
The two of them shouldn’t have met in a long time, yet they immediately started fighting with each other. As though this was a normal occurrence, Claire and Rain held their heads in their hands.
“…Hey Darkness, did you go meet Iris in secret? I can’t help but get the feeling that Iris and Megumin seem to get along better than before.”
“N-, No, nothing like that has happened… More importantly, I’m a bit curious about why Megumin called Iris-sama an ‘underling’.”
As we were forming our suspicions, the seats seemed to have been decided.
“Then both Iris and I will sit behind the rider’s seat.”
“Alright, I wouldn’t lose to you. The loser of this game will have to listen to the order of the winner!”
“Hey, weren’t you guys competing for the right to sit beside me? How did it turn out like this?”
By the way, the carriage had four seats.
There were two rows of two seats.
“Then I’ll sit beside Darkness ok? I want to sit in the front to see the scenery while we’re travelling after all.”
Aqua, who wanted to see the scenic views during our trip, chose to sit in the front. Thus, I was the last one out.
Ehh? Isn’t this a little strange?
What happened to the gorgeous trip there?
In a slightly dissatisfied manner, I boarded the back of the carriage. Claire hurriedly rushed to Iris.
“Iris-sama, did you forget anything? Did you bring your handkerchief? What about extra change to use in times of need? In emergency situations, don’t hesitate to use the scrolls and magic items I gave you alright? If you’re feeling lonely, please don’t cry…”
“Claire, I’m not a child anymore, so I’ll be fine. Besides, if you don’t let go, we won’t be able to leave, so…”
Claire, who latched onto Iris, was promptly pulled away by Rain.
“Alright then Iris-sama, please don’t push yourself, and stay safe. Have a nice trip!”
“Satou Kazuma, I’ll leave Iris-sama in your care! If anyone dares to show disrespect to Iris-sama, you may go as far as to slash them! …Iris-samaaaaaaa!”
As the two of them saw us off—
“Well then, I’ll be going!”
Iris waved her hand, and Darkness swung the reins of the runners, who began to run—
About half of this request was carefree, leisurely travel on a carriage.
Or at least, that’s what I thought.
“WAAAAAAH Kazuma-san! Kazuma-san!! I want you to switch seats with me! This is too scary!”
“Oi, isn’t this too fast! If an accident happens at this speed, we’ll die instantly!”
As Aqua cried out in fear of the excessive speed of the lizard runners, I shouted to the front.
The carriage, which floated frictionlessly above the ground, was pulled forward by the lizard runners at a frightening speed.
“It’s alright Kazuma! The carriage used by royalty all have a powerful barrier cast upon them. In the case of an accident, the people sitting at the driver’s seat will be the only ones to go ‘splat’. HAHAHAHA, wonderful! These lizard runners are truly wonderful! Good, let’s go even faster!”
“Stop! Hey, let me get back in the carriage!”
In response to Darkness’ strangely enthusiastic reply, Aqua began to cry and shout. As this was all happening, Iris and Megumin gleefully frolicked like children.
“Kazuma Kazuma, there were mandrake-like creatures copulating just now!”
“W-, Where is it!? I want to see the mandrake as well!”
Did they not play their game because there were a lot of strange views in our surroundings, or is it because it’s the first time they’ve been on a trip like this?
The two children with shining eyes plastered themselves against the window as though they were competing over the right to use it.
“What you want to see aren’t the mandrakes but the copulation right? Not only do we have a noble lady who tried to amuse themselves with Kazuma, but we also have a member of royalty who’s a closet pervert. Will this country really be fine?”
“There aren’t any closet perverts in royalty! …Who is the noble lady who tried to amuse themselves with onii-sama? …Could it be—”
Having been stared at by two high-spirited children for a while now, Darkness blushed all the way up to her ears.
“Hey, what are we going to do if we crash into a monster at this speed!? If a precious existence like myself goes ‘splat’ in a place like this, this world is going to end! Hey Darkness, are you listening!?”
“It’s alright Aqua. This carriage is outfitted with magic tools that repel monsters, so it’s unlikely for monster to suddenly come out and crash into us. Yes, as long as our luck isn’t bad, we’ll be fine…”
“Hey Kazuma, Darkness just raised a flag! I’m begging you, please just let me into the carriage!”
––It would be correct to say that we were far too boisterous for anyone to think that we were a royal entourage. Was this going to continue every day?
Rather, I just noticed. Do we really count as bodyguards?
I was feeling a teensy bit worried about this, but my worries were quickly swept away in the next moment
At the same time Iris shouted, a shining slash of light came forth from her sword.
As if it were the special move of a hero in manga or games, the giant cow-type monster that blocked the way in front of us was cleanly sliced into two.
It might be due to the flag that Darkness’ raised, but a large amount of monsters had clogged the road.
Since we couldn’t charge right into them, we stopped and got off the carriage in order to clear a path. It was a good thing to touch the ground again, but…
I signaled to Darkness who was beside me.
“Hey, why is Iris that strong? Rather, are we even needed?”
“Iris-sama is a member of royalty you know? Since a long time ago, royalty and powerful nobles have been inheriting the blood of heroes, and as a result, their latent potential skyrockets with each generation. On top of that, they receive the highest quality education in a variety of fields. Adding on to that, they use the highest quality food ingredients without reserve in order to raise their level, and they use weapons inherited from the heroes to fight. Do you know that his majesty and the first prince are currently fighting at the frontlines?”
How would I know? Rather, just send the royalty to go defeat the demon king already.
Well, I thought it was a bit strange that we were the only bodyguards.
Then, with a smile on her face, Iris ran up to me – who had been rendered speechless by her strength – whilst hugging her sword across her chest.
“How did I do onii-sama!? I worked hard!”
Seeing Iris, who wanted to be praised, I decided that none of that mattered.
“As expected of my little sister. It’s not quite at the level of me, who had laid a lot of demon king army generals to rest, but since you’re so strong, I’ll give you a passing grade. Keep at it!”
“I don’t know where onii-sama’s confidence come from, but please leave the vanguard to me! Please look closely as I sweep away the monsters using this divine instrument that has been passed on from my ancestors!”
Did this girl just say ‘divine instrument’?
“Hey, what is that sword? It looks really expensive, and it’s shining with light and stuff.”
“Are you talking about this? This is a national treasure named Calibur, and apparently, it’s a divine instrument that can protect the bearer from all abnormal effects and curses you know? The sheath was really pretty, so begged my father to give it to me.”
I, uh, well, know about this ‘Calibur’.
If I remember correctly, Megumin wrote something like that on my body during the time that I was a corpse.
Rather, isn’t this the famous holy sword that everyone back on earth knows about?
More importantly, it’s being carried by the princess, and not some hero fighting on the frontlines?
For some reason, Megumin, who had her moment to shine taken away from her was in a good mood. She said to Iris, who smiled ecstatically.
“Although you are still my underling, this is what I would expect from my left-hand man. If you see a monster, just slash the same way you did just now.”
“Yes, please leave this to me!”
Isn’t this wrong?
It’s not ‘please leave this to me!’. Since we’re her bodyguards, we shouldn’t be telling her to go and slash them up.
“Hey Megumin, what do you mean by ‘underling’ and ‘left-hand man’? Did you do something weird without me noticing? I can’t help but get a bad feeling about this. The only way for you to communicate with Iris should be through mail right?”
“How disrespectful of you to call this ‘something weird’. We only perform acts of justice. Also, right now, we’re only at the level when my left and right hands have found a hideout, and are starting to expand. Once we become an enormous organization, I will invite you to be my comrade in arms.”
In other words, she made a secret base with some friends to play in, right?
No matter when it is, this girl seems like a child doesn’t she?
Even though she occasionally does things that makes my heart go ‘doki-doki’ when we’re alone…
On the first day of travel to the neighboring country.
To be honest, I didn’t think Iris was strong to this extent.
Since the sky was getting dark, we decided to stop for the day and start camping preparations. As we were getting off the carriage—
“As expected of Iris-sama. I didn’t think that you were this strong already. You must have worked hard, haven’t you?”
Darkness showed a warm and gentle smile towards Iris, who had cleared out all the monsters we encountered on the way thus far. She looked as though she was a happy sister witnessing her little sister’s growth.
Yes, despite having received this bodyguard request, we haven’t had even a single moment to shine.
Well, not like it’s a bad thing to lay back and relax.
Well, it’s not a bad thing, but I can’t help but feel my pride as a brother slowly slipping away…
Iris, who was praised by Darkness, squinted her eyes in a bout of nostalgia.
“Speaking of which, you used to train me, didn’t you Lalatina? It’s because of that that I am able to be this strong right now. Thank you, Lalatina.”
“Fufu, I am not worthy of such praise.”
Faced with Iris’ shy attitude, Darkness showed the etiquette of a vassal, and revealed a gentle smile.
“But you, didn’t you say that the house Dustiness was one of the families that acted as a guardian for royalty? Rather than protecting, today, you were the one being protected, and you didn’t really do anything either.”
While I didn’t mean anything special when I said that, Darkness’ expression froze up.
“W-W-, What are you saying? I just felt that monsters of that level were good combat practice for Iris ok…!?”
Seeing Darkness’ flustered state, Iris hurriedly moved to interject.
“Onii-sama, Lalatina acts as the guardian of royalty at the crucial times. She is the armor and shield of my nation. There’s no need for her to act for such minor incidents. She will definitely protect me if I ever get into a pinch!”
Darkness was moved to the point where she moved to hug Iris, who rubbed her head to comfort her.
Although Darkness seemed like an elder sister who was proud of her sibling’s growth, right now, I wasn’t sure who was the elder sister, and who was the little sister.
Leaving the troublesome-as-usual Darkness to her devices, I started on our camping preparations.
Now that I think about it, this is the first time I’ve went camping for real. I usually never go anywhere far after all.
Although there weren’t any good aspects of me as a bodyguard, in order to take back my pride as a brother, I should lead the tent setup and food preparations.
As I was getting excited for camping, Darkness, who was now in a somewhat good mood, took out a magic tool.
“Let’s prepare our lodgings for tonight. Iris-sama, please step aside.”
Saying that, she opened some kind of cube-shaped thing, and threw it towards some empty space.
Then, it released a flash of light, and in the open space was now a small, noble mansion.
“…What is this.”
“What do you mean by what is this? Could you have possibly thought that the princess of the nation would go sleep in a tent? This is one of the highest-grade magic tools of the nation, which has a monster repelling barrier, and is quite convenient to carry around…”
“That’s fine already! Rather, are we really needed!?”
While I threw a straight-man retort at Darkness without thinking, this was without a doubt better than living outdoors in a tent.
Entering the small mansion that resulted from the thorough preparations for this trip, we dropped our luggages and began to rest.
––As my last stand, I announced that I would do the cooking for today, since I had the cooking skill.
The rest of them were currently exploring the interior of the magic mansion, which rooms we had already distributed amongst ourselves.
Since Iris was a princess, she was probably already tired of the high-class cuisine that she eats on a daily basis.
If that was the case, it would probably be good to cook up something that she doesn’t normally get to eat.
As I was searching for ingredients, I confirmed the condition of the kitchen.
Although this mansion didn’t have any pipes, and was constructed on an open ground, for some reason, when I turned the faucet, water came flushing out. I couldn’t help but feel slightly enraged by this unreasonable development.
“Onii-sama, is there anything I can help you with?”
A voice suddenly came from behind me.
When I turned to look, Iris’ head popped out of the side of the doorway of the kitchen, as if she was peeping.
“How could I let the princess-sama help with the cooking? This is a chance to display my skills, so just wait obediently for food to be served.”
“I can still help even if I’m a princess! Rather, no matter how much I begged the chefs at the castle, they won’t allow me to help them with the food. They kept saying that ‘this is something for subordinates to do’…”
Seeing Iris’ despondent state, I couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty.
Well, it’s a given that a sheltered princess-sama like herself would never get the chance to cook.
…Then it’s settled.
“Well then why don’t you help me out a little bit? Just a warning, cooking isn’t as easy as it looks, alright? Listen to my instructions carefully, and take care not to hurt yourself alright?”
“Yes, I understand onii-sama!”
Seeing Iris’ shining expression, I was overcome with a sense of warmth. I took out the ingredients from the magic fridge, and began to think of what simple dishes that I could let Iris work on.
A simple dish that Iris normally doesn’t get to eat, and something that even I could make without any trouble.
“Now then, we’re making fried rice and dumplings today.
“Yes-! …cha-han and gyoza? What kind of dish is it?”
<TL Note: Cha-han is fried rice, while gyoza is a type of crescent shape, pan-fried dumplings. Similar to ‘Chirimendonya’, Iris is simply repeating what Kazuma said, and has no idea what they are, so I left it as romaji>
First, I retrieved the cabbage from the fridge.
“Fried rice is fried rice. It’s an extremely popular dish that no one in the world dislikes, but since you and Darkness have been sheltered, you probably don’t know about it.”
“Is it that popular of a dish? It’s a shame that I don’t know about it. Please teach me!”
As I was bathed in Iris’ gaze of utmost respect, I paid extra care to not show her the smug grin that was forming on my lips. Then, I put the cabbage on the cutting board.
“First, we will make the filling for the dumplings! The ingredients for that are cabbage, garlic, and minced meat… OWah—!”
“Ahh-, the cabbage!”
Perhaps it had been playing dead until now, but in the instant that I was about to lay down the knife, the cabbage flew away and darted out the window.
In order to prevent the smoke from gathering in the room, I had opened the window, but it had come back to haunt me.
“…Alright Iris, cooking is an art where a moment of negligence will prove to be fatal. You have to pay extra attention to that alright?”
“Onii-sama, confirming whether or not the ingredients are still alive is the basics upon basics of cooking. Even though I don’t know much about the world, I at least know that.
“Kazuma, what kind of dish is this? This is the first time I’ve seen this.”
Seeing the food on the table, Darkness inquired with me out of curiosity.
We had fought a fierce battle against the second cabbage. At another point, Iris had been ambushed by the onion that was one of the ingredients for the fried rice, her eyes had been burned to tears. In the end, we managed to make the fried rice and dumplings, along with an egg soup.
“Lalatina, this is an extremely popular dish that not a single person despises, call cha-han. I actually helped make this!”
“Iris-sama did!? Well then, it seems like you worked hard. I will look forward to it.”
Seeing Iris stick out her chest in pride, Darkness couldn’t help but show a smile.
I quickly fed the food into my mouth. As I was relishing in the satisfaction, Iris and Darkness stared at the dish with troubled expressions.
“Lalatina, this is definitely an extremely popular dish. Despite this ‘cha-han’ dish only being stir-fried, it still has a very rich taste.”
“There aren’t any high-class ingredients here are there? Why is such a quality dish not served to the likes of nobles? It’s quite strange isn’t it…”
I’m sure that if dumplings and fried rice were served at the night banquets of royalty and nobles, many tables would be flipped.
“Hey Kazuma, leave tomorrow’s’ food to the great Aqua. I will allow the two of them to eat the tastiest dishes.”
“If that’s the case, leave dinner of the day after to me. I will make the dishes that I ate often back at the Village of Crimson Magic.”
Megumin aside, it was rare for Aqua, who usually refuses to cook, to say such things.
But well, the trip must go on I suppose.
If they were willing to help out then I have nothing but gratitude.
“Oi Kazuma, this dessert called ‘potato chips’ are quite good.”
I tried to hold back a smile as the two ojou-sama glanced with shining eyes at the junk food before them while thinking about tomorrow’s plans.
“Now onii-sama, let us cook today as well!”
The night of the next day.
Besides Megumin releasing her explosion magic after her competitive spirit was riled up when she saw Iris routing all the monsters on the road, everything went just fine, but…
“You’re quite motivated aren’t you Iris? I see that you have a bright future ahead of you, so today, I’ll teach you my specialty!”
“Really!? Thank you very much, I will try my best!”
We were the only ones in the kitchen tonight however, Aqua was also there.
At the very least, I was out of this pinch for now.
Megumin aside, Aqua seemed to be planning to teach the sheltered princess-sama and Darkness some rather pointless things.
By the way, Darkness was currently accompanying Megumin, who couldn’t move as a result of exhausting her magic power.
Aqua looked through the fridge, and took out of a couple of ingredients.
“Today’s dinner is Tuna-Mayo rice.”
Said Aqua. She put her hands on her hips, and showed a triumphant expression.
Has she gone mad?
Although I didn’t have the right to say anything after feeding the princess-sama fried rice, but we weren’t going to get punished after all this is over right?
“It’s another dish I haven’t heard of. The people around onii-sama are quite well-informed aren’t they!”
“This is a given for a great archpriest like myself! Just saying, this is a food that you can quickly prepare if you’re crunched for time. For an adventurer who could lose their life with a moment’s hesitation, this is a treasure alright?”
“I see, so it’s a dish eaten specifically by adventurers!”
As Aqua was telling Iris some irresponsible things, she poured the tuna and mayonnaise on the rice.
“And it’s done.”
“It’s quite simple isn’t it!?”
How many times will I have to say this? Has this girl gone mad?
Then, perhaps Aqua thought that this wasn’t good enough yet, she took something else out of the fridge…
“You won’t be full with just that, so I prepared some dried-seasoning over rice and raw-egg over rice alright?”
<TL Note: Furikake-gohan and Tamago-kake gohan, for those who are curious for a visual>
“Yes, I’m very much looking forward to this!”
Iris gazed curiously at the tuna-mayo rice, with a wide smile on her face.
––After bringing all the dishes to the table, I seated myself. The two ojou-samas relished the taste of the food with immense interest, today as well.
“Lalatina, this dish was made in a mere moment. The entire creation took less than a minute.”
“Is that true Iris-sama? Oi Kazuma, why didn’t you tell me about such a convenient dish sooner? If you could make such a dish so quickly, then this dish is truly priceless.”
Everyone knows, besides you.
“It’s not just soy sauce and salt, it’s also tasty with hot sauce alright?”
Saying that, Aqua poured hot sauce all over her rice. As though she were eating a high-class cuisine, she elegantly fed the rice into her lips.
“…Aqua, to be honest, I thought you were a useless and ignorant person, but it seems like I can’t read a book by its cover. Please forgive my shallow attitude.”
Darkness, who ate the seasoning-over-rice in the same classy manner that was becoming of nobles, lowered her head towards Aqua.
“There are a lot of things in this world that you have yet to know about. Since you and Iris are both ojou-samas, it can’t be helped. Someday, I will teach you how to eat the ice cream that is stuck on the cap of a box of ice cream, as well as a bunch of other useful, small skills alright?”
I feel that we’ll anger a lot of powerful people if we teach Iris something like that.
I wanted to retort, but seeing their gazes of respect towards Aqua, I couldn’t find it in myself to break the good mood.
Bearing a troubled expression towards the delicate situation, I ate the tuna-mayo rice. Megumin, who sat beside me, silently scoffed down the food without a single complaint or comment.
Although I was a bit worried about the food for tomorrow, we would arrive at the capital of Elroad the day after.
It’s alright, Megumin was the only one in charge of food tomorrow.
Not to mention, her cooking skills weren’t all that bad either.
Yes, it will surely be alright—
“Iris, it ran towards your side! By careful not to let it pinch your fingers alright!?”
“I understand, please leave this to me! Ah, there another lobster between the gaps of the rocks-!
The last day on our trip to Elroad.
We discovered a river as we travelled along the road, and, following Megumin’s instruction, we took a short break.
“Megumin, this lobster is a bit small. Do we really want to eat it? Isn’t this still a baby lobster? Ah, owowow…”
Darkness who had stepped into the river, shouted as her finger was pinched.
The hint of happiness that could be felt in her voice was nothing new.
“That’s not a baby lobster. Since it doesn’t live in the wide ocean, but in a narrow river, this lobster won’t grow any bigger. Oh-, you can’t escape! With this, I’ve gotten four!”
As Megumin flipped the stones at the shallow part of the river, she caught another one in live-action.
“Hey Kazuma, I have something I want to say…”
“Don’t say it. That girl is catching lobsters, a high-class cuisine that is suitable for a princess-sama, ‘lobster’. Got it?”
We were catching crayfish.
I was a bit suspicious when Megumin had said that this was something she often ate back at the Village of Crimson Magic.
There was no way a povertous household like hers could have made some high-class cuisine.
“Maybe it’s because not a lot of people pass through here, but we got a big catch! Tonight’s dinner will be a feast!”
“This is the first time I’ve gathered food ingredients! So there are also ways like this to enjoy cooking!”
“M-, Megumin, can you get this thing off of me! At some point, bit on my toe…!”
Perhaps they never got the chance to play by the riverside, but the two crayfish-catching sheltered ladies seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Seeing the peaceful scene unfold, I—
“Since the royalty had put a variety of ingredients in the fridge, it would be a waste not to use them. I’ll go prepare something.”
“Don’t run away on your own. If you do, then the burden of each and every one of us increases.”
––The sun finally set. As we prepared our lodgings for tonight.
“Now Iris, pay attention alright? Allow me to show you my skill in cooking as well!”
“Yes, I’ll be in your care!”
Megumin – in high spirits – took a stand in front of the large amount of crayfish.
Perhaps Megumin wanted Iris to witness her good side. She seemed far more motivated than usual.
“Usually, you’d let the crayfish sit in water for one night to expunge the dirt, but since these crayfish were caught in a fairly clean river, there wouldn’t be any issues if we eat it as it is.”
“I will study hard!”
Megumin was taught the princess-sama the knowledge required to eat crayfish.
After this is over, I should tell Iris to not mention that we taught her how to catch and eat a crayfish after she returns to the capital.
“Now then, first, we’ll remove pungent smell of the cray… lobster. To do that, we’ll submerge it in sake, uhm, ah, this should be fine.”
Megumin took a bottle of sake out of the fridge, and poured it into the bowl.
Although I noticed that it was an expensive sake that a certain someone was looking forward to drinking, I’ll pretend I didn’t notice.
“If you leave it here like this for a while, the pungent smell will be removed and replaced with a fine aroma. Now then, during this time, we’ll prepare for the next step…”
Knowing that she had taken care of a small, little sister prior to this, it was a given that she went through the steps quite deftly.
Iris showed a gaze of respect towards Megumin.
“Ah, I did everything on my own didn’t I? As for preparations, this should be fine, then…”
Maybe Megumin was happy that Iris looked at her in that fashion. After finishing the preparations, she quickly moved on to cooking.
Starting with the crayfish soup, she then moved on make the salt-grilled crayfish, and finally, she finished with a dish of stir-fried shellfish in chili-sauce.
Megumin, who displayed an unexpected amount of prowess when it came to household tasks, breathed a sigh of satisfaction.
“Kazuma has been on cooking duty all the time recently you see? Occasionally, I want everyone to eat the food I cooked myself. Alright Iris, help divide the dishes ok?”
“Ah, I understand! Sorry, I was stared absentmindedly and…”
“Is that so? Since you were looking at your leader’s amazing prowess, I guess it can’t be helped! Now now, I’ll divide the dishes, so Iris, go wash your hands.”
Towards Megumin, who seemed rather lax, I voiced my inquiry.
“Hey, what do you mean by ‘leader’?”
“…Nothing at all.”
“––Tasty. The fresh flavor of the lobster we caught seeped into the soup, so it has a rich taste. On top of that, the remaining earthly taste in the lobster is a good match for the salt-grill, so it doesn’t make me feel unpleasant at all. But ultimately, this…!”
As Darkness described the food like a narrator of a cooking show, she fed the crayfish dishes into her mouth.
Although she was praising this like a gourmet connoisseur, I wanted to tell her that this wasn’t a lobster, but a crayfish, and that it was something that you could find anywhere.
Looking at Iris, she too was enjoying the food to the fullest extent. Perhaps she felt that catching the ingredients herself was a refreshing experience in itself.
Megumin on the other hand, had said that she had caught too many ingredients, and had gone to feed the lizard runners.
…Which means that now the chance to do something about this.
“Hey Kazuma, I want to eat some toad today, so I’ll go and fry some toad from the fridge. You can have my share.”
“My late grandfather died as he was inspecting the fields of the farm, when he was attacked by a large mob of crayfish. After that, I decided that I would no longer eat shellfish. So that’s why you can have my share, Aqua.”
“Do you think you can deceive the eyes of a god? I know that when you were sent to the hospital after almost getting run over by the tractor, your grandfather jumped from his seat and rushed there you know? Also, didn’t you eat those snow crimson crabs a while back!?”
“Like you’re one to talk! What do you mean by ‘I want to eat some toad’? After being eaten by toads so many times, how could you possibly be enthusiastic about eating it!?”
Suddenly, we, who grabbed onto each other as we fought over who would take the food, felt an eerie presence from behind us.
There stood Megumin, who should’ve have gone to feed the lizard runners.
“Oi, if you have complaints about the secret dish of my clan, why don’t we hear it?”
“We were just messing around. Of course we’ll eat it.”
“Ah, we were just a bit too merry about this. This shrimp looks pretty tasty, so let me try it.”
As we steeled our resolve, Aqua and I picked up a shellfish to eat.
Well, this isn’t a crayfish, but a lobster.
<TL Note: Kazuma is trying to delude himself>
I’ve already eaten something like toad when I came to this world, so at this point, it didn’t matter whether or not it was a crayfish.
Furthermore, crayfish was originally used for food purposes anyway…
“Hm, this is actually not bad. Hey Kazuma, I can eat your portion as well if you don’t mind. For this trip, I even prepared a bottle of expensive sake. I was looking for something to accompany it anyway, so you can leave your portion to me.
Seeing Aqua happily eat the crayfish, and leave for the fridge, I put the crayfish in my mouth without hesitation.
“…Oho, this is pretty tasty. The shell has been grilled quite nicely as well, and the crayfish broth has seeped into the soup make it amazingly tasty. As expected of a secret recipe, sorry about my lack of respect for cray… lobster dishes.”
“It was just a joke when I said ‘secret recipe’. Well, above all, I’m glad that you’re happy with it.”
…As I was left with nothing but regret for my praise, I could hear Aqua crying from the kitchen.
Later that night.
Maybe it was due to the unfamiliar pillow, but I couldn’t fall asleep for some reason.
I slept like a rock the last two days because I spent the whole travel worried about the lizard runners, but by the third day, it seems like my body had gotten used to it.
I got up from the bed, and went to the kitchen to get some water.
As I had my night vision ability, I didn’t bother to light the lamps on my way to the kitchen. I then cooled the water that came out of the faucet.
As I released a relaxed sigh after drinking the water, I felt the presence of someone behind me, and turn my head around.
I thought the only person who could come all the way here without using a light was Aqua, who had cried the entire night after discovering that her sake was used for the dish, but…
“Is that you, onii-sama?”
I was wrong.
In the darkness of the doorway to the kitchen, which was illuminated only by faint amount of starlight that passed through the window, stood Iris.
“Ahh, it’s me, your onii-sama. I couldn’t fall asleep, so I came to get some water.”
Hearing my voice, Iris lightly exhaled in relief.
“Uhm, I went to the bathroom, but since its dark, could you bring me to my room?”
Iris stared at where my face was in the darkness, and shyly stretched her hand.
Although I thought that it would be fine to just light a lamp, but, from a young age, she had never said anything selfish, and was a child that was attentive to her surroundings.
Surely, she didn’t want to wake anyone up by lighting a lamp.
“Alright, leave it to me. Onii-sama will bring you to your room. If you’re scared of sleeping alone, I can sleep with you as well.”
“I’ll be fine.”
––Holding Iris’ small hand, I led her down the dark corridor.
Not wanting to wake anyone up, Iris walked with soft steps.
As we tread lightly through the silence of everyone’s sleep, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that we were doing something we shouldn’t.
Then, the grip of hand that held onto mine tightened.
Looking at Iris, I felt that she was thinking what I was thinking. Her expression was akin to when we went to the kitchen together to steal food – a happy smile that would be seen during the middle of our mischievous pranks.
“At times like this, I would think back to when I went to onii-sama’s room late at night to play around and listen to your stories.”
“You’re talking about the time where you came to play without Claire’s approval? Thanks to you, Claire was super angry at me the next day you know? Even though it’s not like I brought you outside to play.”
During my stay at the castle, Iris would occasionally sneak to my room without Claire’s knowledge to come and play.
The castle would enter a state of commotion every time she came. It might even be the reason that I was forbidden from entering the capital.
As I was thinking that, Iris showed a smile and said.
“But every time I came to play, Onii-sama would patiently tell your stories… I still remember you know? The story where, in onii-sama’s country, a kind, single person that fought against a ‘present of despair’, which was cross-bearing demon called ‘Santa Claus’.”
My little sister is so clever isn’t she?
I was partially joking when I told her that, but to think that she thoroughly remembered all of it.
“I still remember you know? That onii-sama earned the title of ‘the god of net games’ after battling for multiple nights.”
My little sister is so honest isn’t she?
To think she would believe and respect such a NEET sounding story.
… I couldn’t help but feel super sorry for what I’ve done.
Seeing my speechlessness, Iris seemed to have a misunderstanding, and she uneasily asked.
“Sorry, did what I say remind onii-sama of your home country?”
I was deeply reflecting on my sins.
Though it was a given that I couldn’t say that. I showed a smile to Iris—
“Nope, I was just thinking that I was really happy everyday back then, and was feeling a bit nostalgic.”
Despite knowing that she wouldn’t be able to see it, since she didn’t have the night vision ability.
However, as if feeling my smile in the darkness, Iris seemed to be slightly relieved.
“It’s good if that’s the case…. Uhm”
Having arrived at to her room at some point, we let go of each other’s hand.
As Iris opened to door to her room, she turned around to face me.
“Please continue to stay in my nation. After all, I will try my best to make it one that onii-sama will forever want to live in.”
As if she was worried that I would go to a faraway place for some reason, she showed a somewhat lonely smile.
The next morning.
Since we would arrive at Elroad sometime today, Aqua was in a high spirits. What Iris said last night weighed on my mind, and I asked Darkness, who sat beside me on the rider’s seat.
“Hey Darkness, this trip is just to meet the little brat that Iris is engaged to right? Then it wouldn’t be a problem to go back immediately after seeing him right?”
Darkness look at me dumbfoundedly, and stole a glance at Aqua and Megumin, who were keeping Iris occupied.
“There’s no way we’ve come to just see them you know? If that’s the case, there wouldn’t be a need to come here in secret, and there’s no point in doing such a thing when the war against the demon king army is intensifying. I’ll be honest with you. This visit is to ask for reinforcements from the neighboring country.”
To ask for reinforcements.
“No, a request like that has been sent to all the nations a long time ago. Since my nation is the only one that borders the demon king army’s territory, if we were to be defeated, then the line of defense would be broken, and the weaker nations would immediately be overrun. Because of that, the surrounding countries regularly send elite troops as reinforcements.”
“However, the nation of Elroad is the only exception. Since it was a nation that was established on casinos, their military forces are weak. As a result, instead of reinforcements, they send us financial support. The majority of our security expenses are covered by this country.”
“I see. But how is that related to what we’re doing now?”
Hearing my question, Darkness said.
“Didn’t I tell you that the war with the demon king army has been intensifying? But there’s another reason behind this truth, Kazuma, and that is because we’ve defeated too many demon king army generals.”
“Eh, you’re saying that they’re trying to get revenge for defeating their generals?”
“No, the demon king army has become flustered, so to speak. After all, the demon king army generals that have been undefeated until now are being slain one after another. To add onto that, we are not only increasing our defenses to defend against them, we are also starting to counterattack. However, since Elroad is currently undergoing financial difficulties, rather than providing funds for attacking, they’re planning to stop the defense funding. Thus, in place of the king and the prince who are currently commanding on the front lines, Iris-sama, who is also a member of royalty, has been sent here as a representative.”
I finally understand what Iris meant yesterday.
She thinks that I would run away if the war took a turn for worse. She really does understand me.
Basically – in order to get the funding – she was trying to cajole her fiancé.
Since my little sister was the cutest in the world, it should be easily done.
“My country has had good relationship with Elroad for a long time. As a militant nation that is estranged with financial matters, our relationship with the financial robust but militarily weak nation of Elroad could be said to be a give and take relationship. Regardless of Elroad’s financial struggles from now on, this visit is crucial to my nation, and might even decide the fate of the world, so don’t do anything unnecessary alright?”
Darkness stared at me as she said that.
“… I get it. It’s something for the sake of the world and its people right? I’m also an adventurer that fights against the demon king army, so at times like this, I wouldn’t do anything selfish. I know that it’s pointless for me to meddle in this manner, so you can rest assured ok?”
Hearing what a said, Darkness showed a relieved smile.
Then, Darkness gaze almost immediately turned to that of suspicion.
“Oi, you, what’s your stare supposed to mean? Are you doubting me?”
“I can’t bring myself to believe that you would say something like ‘for the sake of the world and its people’… Well fine, once we arrive at Elroad’s castle down, we can take our time to rest. After all, there’s no need to go meet them immediately after arriving. First we’ll take a day to rest. Everything comes after that.”
As if trying to reassure me, Darkness showed a gentle smile…
………Ah, I see.
Now that I think about it, before we left, Darkness and Rain had conspired to make me take a sleeping drug.
“Ah, Kazuma Kazuma, look! We can see Elroad!”
“Ahahahahahha! That’s it! I’ve always wanted to come here, to the great nation of casinos, Elroad!”
Things were heating up behind me.
Listening to everyone’s voices, Darkness and I exchanged dubious smiles.
Notes about this chapter:
- The nation Iris belongs to is called ‘Belzerg’
- Iris is really selfless :/, what she really wants is implied in the Continued! spinoff
- Iris’ sword is translated as ‘Calibur’, but Megumin had written ‘Excalibur’ on Kazuma’s corpse in Volume 4, Chapter 1.