Uranophane will be translating most of Gifting from hereon out, but not much to say otherwise.
I guess we have a cool new banner for Akashic…
Intermediates (JP->CN): lolihunter2 yukira 叶子 サダメ
Editors: shizubro, Ruzenor, Deus ex-Machina, Keel the Swift
(Kazuma PoV, “Big Boss” mostly refers to Chris. Kazuma refers to the SHTG as “masked thieving group” (as he wears a mask) while Eris refers to it as the SHTG (as she has white hair).
That was after our visit to Elroad, where a whole plethora of events had taken place.
“Is that the Tennessee mansion? Quite grandiose for a home in such a wild location.
We arrived at the Tennessee mansion, situated in a forest near Axel.
I admired the great mansion and exhaled in respect. Beside me, Darkness nodded; due to her noble status, she was also dressed in formal clothes.
“The Tennessee family had always been specialized in trading. They’re of low status among nobility, but wealth-wise they’re even richer than my family. Although, their Lady is very much disliked. Clearly only a lowly upstart, they still ridicule and mock my family for poverty! Kazuma, this quest seems highly suspicious. You have to be careful!”
Beside Darkness, who is out of her mind from royal private matters, the also formally-clad Aqua screamed for no apparent reason.
“I too knew it was Tennessee! When I tried to loan money after spending it all, I was expelled because ‘they never lend money to Axis cultists’!”
“Oh you, doing this kind of nonsense while I wasn’t paying attention… Darkness, too, who tried to drug me in Elroad. Can’t you all be more like Megumin who’s been very obedient lately?”
Hearing this, Megumin trembled.
“…Hey, what did you do this time?”
She broke eye contact and violently refuted. I instantly read that as “she definitely did something again”. Meanwhile—
“K-Kazuma… I’m sorry about trying to drug you, so… please let’s forget about that… Uhm, this matter is embarrassing to both of us and should definitely be kept secret, alright? Oh, and I can treat you to high quality wine after we get back.”
“Hey, Kazuma, this family just won’t do, let’s reject this quest! Ones who dislike the Axis cult can’t possibly be of any good.”
—Ignoring the two complainers, I knocked on the mansion door.
—A while ago I received a letter.
To say, someone had invited the strongest adventurer in Axel—me—to a mission.
After all, I’ve made yet another legend in Elroad, so being relied on is only expected.
But I also have to constantly train and grind to prepare for the inevitable battle with the Demon King. Therefore, I’m very busy.
I would have normally rejected such a quest, but the client was a noble.
Even though I have already made all kinds of dark, underground connections, a taste of “royalty” had taught me that one more connection wouldn’t hurt.
And thus, I accepted this quest.
“Greetings, first time seeing you. I am Lady Carleen of the Tennessee family, please take care.”
We were received in the lounge by a girl slightly older than me, having a body slim as a model and a head of red hair.
“You must be Satou Kazuma. Thank you for taking our quest.”
The Carleen girl froze after looking behind me.
No, more specifically after seeing the Megumin hiding behind my back.
“…Excuse me, just a second please.”
“Ah, sure… no problem…”
I led Megumin—still holding on—to the hallway by her neck.
“Spill it, what’s your story with Carleen?”
“What are you talking about? This is also my first time meeting her… I-I get it! I’ll tell you! I’ll tell you! Please stop using Drain Touch! I won’t be able to cast my daily explosion!”
Megumin, who had been acting strange ever since coming inside, said as she avoided my right hand,
“…Actually, when this household was attacked by monsters, I saved them along with my friends—”
Even though I have no clue why Megumin came to this forest; so far, her story seemed like nothing that’s worth covering up.
“Only that? I thought you damaged the building with your explosion magic or… got caught by the police or something…”
“No, nothing of that sort happened…”
Yet Megumin was mumbling.
“Since you did nothing unspeakable, you should be confident. You could, what, feel guilty about not informing us before taking on monsters at worst. I was indeed worried for you, but from what you said, your group is set powerwise!”
“Yes, we have an underling that’s marginally powerful, a friendless crimson demon, plus an Axis priest and a certain thief.”
While I don’t understand the composition of this team, I’m pretty certain that the crimson demon is Yunyun. With her on the team, I have little to worry about.
“Then it’s A-OK. After all, grinding experience is also important; I’ll come play with you guys when I have time.”
Hearing that made her happy.
When I took Megumin back through the doors to the lounge…
“Apologize, now! For not lending me money because I was an Axis cultist!”
“S-sorry, very sorry. I apologize in the name of our treasurer.”
Seeing Aqua who’s forcing Carleen to apologize and the completely red Darkness who’s covering her face, all I wanted to do was leave at this point.
“—Repelling monsters around the… mansion?”
“Indeed. We feel secure with the only best adventurers in Axel on this duty.”
After calming Aqua down with some sweets, she reaffirmed the contents of this quest.
“We aren’t all that powerful. Although, I heard that the rewards were unusually large. Should I understand that you have high hopes for us?”
“Oi, can’t you be a little more humble? As I’ve been saying since the beginning, this quest seems very fishy, so again: be careful.”
I listened to the briefing attentively. Meanwhile, Darkness complained under her breath and elbowed me in the stomach.
That said, considering our accomplishments thus far, the only mistake would be treating us badly. This current attitude should be what’s expected.
Carleen suddenly held my hand as I pridefully straightened my back.
“Of course Kazuma-sama, I’ve heard about your fame and legends. Having a plethora of skills and adapting with them to any situation, you made mockery out of many demon king generals. Besides, your teammates include a holy priest, a powerful archwizard and… they’re all high-tiered specializations!”
“That’s an exaggeration. Although, without us, the city probably would have fallen into chaos by now.”
Holding my hand while looking at me with seductive eyes, Carleen’s words made me ever so slightly flustered. Yet I sat even taller.
Then the speechless Darkness beside me—
“…Hey, aren’t I also a part of your team?”
—spoke while staring daggers.
“Oh look at me believing you only showed up today out of fear that your precious Kazuma-sama might be won over by me… But the rumours of Lady Cuckiness Ford Lalatina fooling around as an adventurer were real! Being an impoverished noble of such a high status must be tough…”
Carleen let go of my hand and sarcastically mocked Darkness.
“Hoho, funny now that you say it. As expected of an upstart—no manners whatsoever. Unlike those bottom-rung, irresponsible nobles who seem willing to sell their bodies for money, our family hold royal duties and responsibility to the kingdom. I am a crusader who is a shield that guards the people.”
In stark contrast to when she elbowed me earlier on, Darkness stood tall and proud, smiling with grace and heroism.
…Oi, what the hell, that’s scary.
“Oolala, expected nothing less from your Highness, Dustiness. All because of the so-called royal duties, you’re poor to the point of wearing the exact same dress in every ceremony. Touching, to say the least. If you wouldn’t mind, you could pick a few from my old selection of dresses and take them for free; how does that sound?”
Seeing Carleen finish her statement with a cold giggle, Darkness fought back without remorse—
“For a family that treats dresses as consumables, your generosity is almost as vast as your chest. Although, that isn’t due to my ‘poverty’, but my love for my mother’s dress; sorry for the confusion. Besides…”
“Had I worn your clothes, I’m afraid—”
As she spoke, she crossed her arms under her bulging, voluptuous breasts.
“—they simply wouldn’t fit!”
The atmosphere thickened.
…What the hell, that’s so scary!
I want to go home.
Carleen suddenly pounded the table.
“Say that once again, why don’t you, the Dustiness whose only redeeming quality is her body! The boys obviously prefer slimmer girls like me!”
“Haha, then why do all the men gaze at me at every social event? Was that an illusion? Having to change dresses every time my bust increased in size is inconvenient, you know. Unless the Lady of the Tennessee family changes so often for the same issue?”
Darkness, too, stood up and lifted her crossed arms to show off her assets.
“Ahh…so heavy! If not for my being an adventurer and training my muscles, I would’ve collapsed long ago.”
“This… this woman!”
Carleen glared at Darkness gritting her teeth, yet ominously, Darkness only pretended to be troubled.
“This must be jealousy-inducing from the perspective of Lady Tennessee; when in actuality, being so big is more trouble than it’s worth, you know? Heavy, stressful, restricted by your clothing… Even my armour had to be custom made. The boys’ gazes just go like…… Hey, hey you, I had expected you to be staring right here, but…come on, isn’t that a little too direct?”
Finding me staring dumbly at her, Darkness fearfully stumbled backwards.
“O-O-Ouch! Oi, what are you doing Megumin!? It wasn’t aimed at you…! I’m sorry! Please stop pulling my hair!”
Watching Darkness having her hair pulled for no reason, Carleen said with a sigh,
“Er… So um… about the quest, will you accept it?”
She awkwardly gave a warm smile as she asked me.
The next day.
Having accepted the quest, we arrived again at the mansion after fully gearing up.
To repel strong monsters around the mansion.
“Speaking of which, why are powerful monsters only appearing here? Could there be some kind of bait in action? Also, I have an ominous feeling about this, so let’s head back for now and come back later.”
We’re currently searching for strong monsters near the mansion.
“Earlier when we made you buy dinner on a rainy day, you also had an ominous feeling. You ended up playing video games didn’t you. Say, do monster really migrate that often? Even for a quest, this still feels especially vague. They only talked about monsters around the mansion… Well, if there are any undead, we just so happen to have a god-tier bait.”
“Hey, just to confirm, this bait you speak of isn’t me right?”
Aqua asked while tugging my shirt. The answer was obvious.
“I didn’t expect you to say something like that. Where did your royal noble lady manners go? What do you mean by ‘all the men gaze at me, could that be an illusion’? Gah, it seems you do enjoy being stared at like this at every event, don’t you?”
“N-no! It’s not like…that! In that context, us nobles use eye contact to communicate, it’s a social phenomenon!”
Darkness panicked. Meanwhile—
“Right, that was also my first time seeing Darkness so blatantly show off her assets. Is that how you really are, having so many faces we’ve never seen before. What were you saying? ‘Ahh, so heavy… if not for my being an adventurer, I would have collapsed’? You’re pretty darn creative if I do say so.”
Megumin’s follow-up attack made Darkness blushingly quicken her pace.
She unsheathed her greatsword and started slashing wildly at the woods as if trying to cut away her awkward feelings.
It was then…
“Eh? Hey, wait a minute.”
My Detect Enemy was triggered just as I tugged Darkness’ cape.
“What now, Kazuma? If you embarrass me any further I’ll…”
Darkness’ sword shot into the sky with a loud “clank”.
Had she walked any further, she would have been the sword.
Realizing the danger, Darkness threw aside her broken weapon and raised her arms in a protective stance.
Yet, something we can’t see at all was hiding deep in the forest.
Usually, this situation meant that…
“Enemies incoming from above! Take cover!”
I quickly turned skyward, knocking Darkness away in the process…
—Here I am in the very familiar, bright room.
Before me was a slightly confused Eris, seeming as if she wanted to say something.
“…Sorry, please don’t say anything. Let me cool down a bit.”
I buried my face in between my knees in a fetal position right there and then.
Just thinking of my stern statement of caution makes me embarrassed to death.
…To death, literally.
“—Usually means they’re all above…”
Indeed, but nothing was above us.
Nor in front, much less the sides.
“What the hell, from below!? I’m just about done with this world!”
After pushing aside Darkness, an antlion-like monster came out of the ground and—
“…Eris-sama, are you trying to hold back your laughter? Could you please not…?”
“Not at all! I’m not holding back laughter, don’t worry! No, saying ‘don’t worry’ is inappropriate. After all, you did lose your life. Sorry for my insensitivity!”
Dying from the opposite direction right after warning the others. Can anything be more embarrassing.
Eris still held her poker face, yet her shoulders were trembling. It takes real skill to hold back laughter to such an extent.
“Rather than that… Right, why would something of that sort appear next to Axel? My level isn’t low at all, yet I was still instakilled!”
Eris’s shoulders abruptly stopped trembling.
“About that… Kazuma-kun, do you have time tonight?”
She said with a completely straight face.
“If you mean ‘free’, then, well, I’m free basically everyday. What, looking for a night raid? Why not warm up right here?”
“Completely wrong, I was talking about retrieving the divine weapon! Flirting with a Goddess will bring forth divine retribution, you know!”
Really now, that matter?
“Then I’m all for it… Say, could all this be related to that divine weapon?”
Hearing my much quieter inquiry, Eris slightly nodded.
“We can’t be sure yet… but it’s definitely a possibility.”
—That is, the divine weapon had originally belonged to Alderp.
It could summon and command monsters at will. Retrieved by Chris, it was sealed at the bottom of the lake, but…
“Initially, I believed that because the land had been depleted of mana, no residents would relocate there in the foreseeable future… Yet, the magic replenished at rates far exceeding my anticipation; consequently, population of said region is already underway. I had intended to transfer the divine weapon before it could be discovered; however, upon inspecting the bottom of the lake, I realized…”
“…That the weapon had already been taken.”
The usually either straight-faced or gracefully smiling Eris wore a depressed expression.
I understand now. And thus, strong monsters have been appearing there lately.
That Carleen noble lacked anything but money; her having bought the divine weapon is very likely.
Her strategy must be something along the lines of—hiding in a suburban mansion, summoning monsters slot machine-style and releasing them if their monetary value isn’t sufficient.
…Although by that logic, the date at which the divine weapon went missing clashed with when the mansion had been built.
But this is a world with magic.
She may have used some sort of spell. One that’s similar to those instant food and mansion spells Darkness showed us in Elroad.
Unlike a certain useless goddess, Eris rarely failed. Even then, she is still my thus far most respected, diligent Big Boss.
“Sure, in the end, we’re only infiltrating and searching that Carleen’s mansion for the divine weapon, right? Count me in.”
As soon as I agreed, Eris’ face lit up.
After that, she playfully pressed her index finger against her lips like a naughty child who had just thought of the perfect prank.
“Tonight, besides Kazuma-kun, there will be an additional helper. As for who… Simply wait and see for yourself!”
“—Happy resurrection, Mr. Satou “Enemies-incoming-from-above” Kazuma who was mangled from below!”
The always fun-poking goddess appeared with a face full of sunshine right after I revived. Currently, I have a strong urge to slap some sense into her.
I seem to be laying on Aqua’s thighs.
Sitting up, I took a look around.
“Kazuma, you’re awake. That was… Well, thank you…very much for…saving me. I was supposed…to be…the one protecting you guys…apologies, sincerely.”
Darkness, breathing raggedly in a suit of crooked armour, kneeled before me.
Taking a closer look, the antlion monster’s mandible had been severed; it being deformed by an incredibly strong squeeze.
Among us, the only person capable of such a feat is…
“I’m very glad that you saved me, though I still hope you’ll get to see more of how tough I can be. Next time for sure… Wh-what is it Kazuma? What is your stare implying; what is your expression implying!?”
I looked at her with a horrified expression, which Darkness didn’t seem to understand.
“N-not like that Kazuma! Even I do not have the strength to pinch such a strong monster to death! Because of how badly you died, I let Aqua give me a strength buff, then…!”
She refuted hurriedly, perhaps in fear of being called hard again.
“How badly I died? How did I die this time? I died so fast, I didn’t feel anything…”
“Oh! You…were cut cleanly in half up the middle…”
“I don’t want to—I don’t need to know this! Wait a moment, did I really die that disgustingly!? …Hey, I was just wondering how my clothes are intact after such a death; looks like someone dressed me.”
Then… If so, who put my clothes on for me?
I turned towards Darkness and Megumin, both of them avoiding eye contact.
Who was it!?
How could I conclude from this kind of reaction!?
Then, seeing that I was troubled, Aqua gave me a gentle chuckle.
“It’s alright Kazuma, don’t worry. For a Goddess of my stature, the nude form of a human is nothing out of the ordinary.”
“Shut your mouth! Don’t put on a smile like that in this kind of situation!”
—Even though we only defeated one monster; since we already have a casualty, we called it a day.
The quest rewards were calculated from kill count.
The reward for just one subjugation is substantial. Yet, the client thought of it as a cheap price. In response…
In the same lounge from yesterday, Carleen widened her eyes upon hearing our report.
“Yep, only one. Sorry for letting you down, but…”
She cut Darkness off with the wave of a hand.
“One? Even with Lady Dustiness, you still only killed one?”
After mocking us, she suddenly laughed.
“Ahahahahaha! Lady Dustiness, having said so many pompous statements, only defeated one monster? Even with the party that supposedly defeated demon generals? The number one in Axel??”
Carleen’s mockery towards Darkness pissed me right off. At this moment, Darkness also shot up furiously.
“Whatever you have to say, just spill it! I know you hate me; but if you dare insult my partners, I’ll make you pay!”
“Oh I have lots to say! Because of your family putting all kinds of restrictions on loans, our income was crippled! When Lord Alderp was in charge, I was making a freaking fortune! What happened to that lord!?”
Carleen objected, also standing up.
“Since when did I let you complain about our family’s policies!? I was asking you what the hell you had against ‘only defeating one monster’! Great, since that is what you wish to talk about, let’s clear it up right here! Loans are a necessary business procedure, and I’m not disallowing that. It’s only that your interest rates are way too high , and your debt-collecting strategies are too despicable!”
“That’s what I meant when I said talking to a Lady who doesn’t have a care in the world is too difficult! Even though the interest is high, as long as people want to loan, it’s still a win-win in the end! Besides, you mentioned that I milk people to death for their debt? What’s wrong with justly taking back what you deserved from those people who beg and pray for loans then turn into devils when you ask them for returns!? This is why you were so indebted to Lord Alderp that you had to marry him… though you lost even that when your groom disappeared!”
Ah, I see how it is.
I see Carleen had said some unforgivable things.
“Bitch! You’ve got some balls to say that as a puny bottom-rung noble! Stay put while I strangle you!”
“C-come at me! You’re only words anyway! …Dustiness? Hey, hold on, you’re dealing with a civilian here, you’ll get in big trouble if you killed me like that!”
“What’s wrong with justly executing a usuring loan shark upstart like you!? This is for the good of the people and kingdom! I wouldn’t mind sitting in jail after wiping you out… What is it, Megumin? Don’t you stop me, can’t you see I’m having a final showdown with this criminal delinquent!?”
(TL note: usury is an illegal practice of unreasonably high interest rates)
Megumin suddenly pulled on Darkness’ cape. Carleen, having her collar manhandled by Darkness, was scared to tears.
“Darkness, let’s stop for now. We didn’t really complete the quest; plus, Kazuma hasn’t recovered fully. Let’s call it here today.”
The most easily triggered Megumin said calmly.
We got home early after receiving our reward from a slightly shaken Carleen.
Megumin had an announcement to make. After hearing her speak—
“—Pardon me, could you please restart from the beginning?”
“No problem… Er, out of excitement, I started my own thieving group and before I realized, we had thousands of members. We turned the best house in Axel into our base; after we got solid backing, we were going to officially begin our criminal activities, and our first target was that noble called Carleen.”
Slightly terrified of what I just heard, I pondered—
What did that bunch even do.
The equally stiff Darkness looked away and said,
“Speaking of which, the best mansion in Axel was recently sold…”
Oh I beg you, please don’t do this.
“Yes, one of my underlings abused her status just a little bit, and got us the rights to use the mansion.”
“Hold on a second, even with the power of the Dustiness household, obtaining such a mansion is still a challenge. Megumin, could your ‘underling’ be…”
Look, I’m begging you all to stop, if you keep talking I wouldn’t be able to stay out of this!
“Right Megumin, didn’t you call Princess Iris your ‘underling’ on our trip to Elroad?”
“Stop now Aqua, you’re usually dim, so why do you have to be excessively smart right at this inopportune moment? Look, we don’t know anything, not a single thing about this, understand!?”
“Understand, my ass! Hey, Megumin, what is actually going on!? In other words, you dragged Princess Iris into some questionable organization, then attacked that family with a bunch of strangers!?”
An inwardly crying Darkness asked with a head full of cold sweat.
“Calling them strangers would be rude. We currently have the carefree little sis, the friendless crimson demon, a priest from an Axis church and a thief as official members, all the others are unconfirmed!”
Except that thief, I feel I could name all the other members.
How could this have happened as soon as I slacked off.
“Besides, strictly speaking, we have only the plans to strike, so we scouted out the target. We haven’t done anything yet. As I told Kazuma earlier, the family was under attack by monsters, so I helped them eliminate the threat.”
Megumin’s words calmed me just a little.
No, I have more questions to ask her.
“In the end, why would you create such a stupid organization? Why can’t you just live a regular life?”
My sincerity earned a “what the hell is this guy on about” look from Megumin.
“Didn’t I tell you before? It’s unforgettable. The second time we had snow crimson crabs, while everyone ate, didn’t I tell my entire story starting from how I met the Silver Haired Thieving Group? If you want an explanation for my thieving group, I guess that’s why.”
At this point, I didn’t dare admit that I hadn’t been listening at all while eating crabs.
“I told everyone about my thieving group already back then. How we were hiring adventurers in Axel, how we bought the base, and started working.”
“Huh, uh, that’s… exactly how it went, yes?”
Seeing Darkness look elsewhere, I concluded that she hadn’t been listening at all either.
I turned my sight to the opposite direction—Aqua boldly shook her head and said,
“Sorry, I was focused on eating crabs, didn’t pay attention.”
…So Darkness and I have fallen to the same level as this person.
“—And then, after you saved that noble, they shooed you away without even thanking you, much less giving a reward?”
To conclude her episode with the noble, I asked this question.
“Indeed, that Carleen person was surprised after seeing me, mostly likely out of awkwardness. I didn’t go out of my way to help her either; initially, I was planning to attack her household, but saw that they were under attack, so I lent a hand out of heroism…”
Megumin awkwardly shrunk a little.
“And thus, Megumin came home empty-handed due to guilt?”
Hearing my question, Megumin drooped her shoulders as if reminiscing the incident.
However, being stripped of glory in front of her teammates is no pleasureable experience.
…Darkness, whose eyes had been closed—suddenly stood up, eyes wide open.
“Despicable, that upstart isn’t only stingy but also cunning as well! I can tolerate her deceiving Kazuma and I, but as a noble Lady, I cannot accept such heartless actions towards little Megumin! Unforgivable!”
“Ah, hey, while I certainly resonate with your words well, what was that about me being OK to trick?”
Hearing my response, Darkness’ eyes glowed,
“Kazuma! Tomorrow—I was about to say ‘at once’—tomorrow morning I shall gather every family I can reach to launch an offensive on that household! Didn’t Megumin originally plan to rob them? Now, with the Dustiness family backing you, feel free to blow them to smithereens!”
“Why are you spitting nonsense!? Even the volatile Megumin held her temper!”
“No, I only held back my criminal desires when I saw the large group of monsters. My adventurer instinct overtook my thief instinct.”
Enough of this self-degradation as soon as you want to praise them for once!
“These matters seem complicated. To prevent further complications, I shall go have a drink and then rest.”
All aside, Aqua seems to be the most normal one tonight.
“Just you wait, Tennessee! I don’t care about the consequences anymore. After this, I’ll happily take any sort of prosecution, as long as I get to show you my wrath!”
Hearing such an oath from Darkness, I escaped to the safety of my room.
As the sky darkened and everyone turned off their lights to sleep…
Someone quietly knocked on my door.
I answered while turning under the sheets. A petite figure entered the room.
“Sorry for bothering you…”
It was Megumin.
That said, she wasn’t wearing her pajamas even at this hour, showing that she’d been distressed ever since dinnertime.
Indeed, her depression traces all the way back to my resurrection.
Even though she tried her best to act nonchalant, as a long-term teammate, I instantly saw through it.
“What is it? Seems like something private yet serious.”
I sat up, trying to prevent the matters from becoming even more serious.
Megumin drooped her head and shoulders.
She quietly apologized.
“No, suddenly coming in my room to say such a thing makes me feel dumped, don’t do such a revolting thing.”
I teased for her reply, but she kept her head down…
“Had I not tried to save that noble and allowed the monsters to attack, Kazuma may not have had to die. On top of that, the source of those powerful monsters around the mansion is probably that Carleen woman…”
…then said something like that out of nowhere.
I felt as if I had heard something similar from another person.
“The monster-summoning divine weapon might be in that noble’s home. If I managed to steal it, Kazuma wouldn’t have di—”
“Who told you all this?”
Having someone in mind, I cut her off.
Maybe not having expected me to question her sources, her eyes glowed red in the dark and looked around—
“It was the ‘proper thief’ in our group I was talking about; Kazuma does know her though…”
With that, she smiled ever so slightly.
I sighed, rolled out of my bed to stare at the window.
She’s probably purposefully emitting a hostile aura so I would save her from the cold outside.
My Detect Enemy had been telling me that someone was waiting outside my window this whole time.
Leaving Megumin baffled, I abruptly got off the bed and walked to the window.
I flung open the curtains—
“Is this the thief you were looking for?”
As if this was all expected, she waved at us from the outside—
Right now, she isn’t the goddess Eris, nor Megumin’s underling, but the high-bounty masked thief—my one and only Big Boss.
“Hey, aren’t you a little too slow to notice me, Assistant-kun? I’m just about frozen here.”
Opening the window, Chris eloquently slid inside.
“Say, Big Boss never set a time did she. Really, wouldn’t it have been better if we met outside?”
I replied in an especially fluent manner.
Megumin looked at us with stupor without moving an inch.
“…Oi, Assistant-kun, Megumin seems to have petrified.”
“Isn’t that a result of your fabulous entrance? Speaking of which, with a suspicious person entering through their window, anyone would freak out.”
Saying irrelevant things, we smiled naughtily. Deep down, we clearly knew the reason why she’s so shocked.
“What was that, Megumin? Sorry, I couldn’t hear you clearly.”
Muttering something, Megumin suddenly kneeled down.
“I’m so sorry! I’m obviously your biggest fan, yet I didn’t even know your true identity!”
“Ah, hey, you’re too loud, people can hear us!”
“It’s OK, Megumin! This is nothing worth apologizing for, so please get up would you?”
As we panicked, Megumin suddenly raised her head to glare at us.
“Say, uhm… you had been calling Kazuma ‘Assistant-kun’ this whole time, could it be…”
Her eyes shined red with enthusiasm. Now would be a terrible time to play dumb.
I shot a reaffirming glance at Chris. She winked in response and gave me the thumbs-up, permitting me to spill the truth.
After all she deliberately chose a time when Megumin would be present. She clearly wanted to do the grand reveal tonight.
Then I have no reason to keep it secret.
I walked over to the closet where I kept my mask—
“Look closely Megumin. The idol you were passionately describing really is—”
I opened the closet.
Chris beside me smiled naughtily and decided to use this moment to mock Megumin—
“Yes, I will look closely, because I want to see what the person I like the most had been doing this whole time.“
Megumin then proceeded to straightforwardly defend her position; it’s now Chris’ turn to blush.
“Big Boss, this little girl is a tryhard, better not poke fun at her. I’ve suffered quite enough.”
“S-s-sorry, sorry. I don’t quite understand the situation, yet I’ve been massively hurt. What is this foul-smelling romance. What is this mixed feeling of shyness, curiosity and an overwhelming urge to cover my face…!”
Megumin looked at us somewhat sadly as we whispered,
“About that, are you two in a close relationship? Since when did you two get so intimate?”
“Megumin, you’re mistaken! We’ve only recently started thieving; didn’t I say this before? I have absolutely no feelings for Assistant-kun! I only see him as a friend, nope, no special feelings at all!”
“Wait a moment, what did you two talk about while I was gone? How come I got friendzoned just like that?”
What were these two even talking about.
To prevent the gossip from going out of control, I’ve vowed to take my sexual harassment down a notch.
As I pondered and changed, I felt two pairs of eyes from behind.
“When you said you wanted look closely, isn’t this a little too close…?”
The two intently staring girls hurriedly turned away just as I was about to remove my pants.
“—Isn’t the full moon simply gorgeous tonight! It doesn’t matter for Assistant-kun since he has night vision; but for me, it’s the best environment to work under!
We ran through Axel under the full moon.
Megumin was dressed in her casual outfit instead of her usual robe.
According Chris, she even made a new facial bandana just for her.
“Uhm, can I really come with you? Since I have no thief abilities, I’ll only be dead weight…”
To the Megumin that had been keeping a bit of distance out of guilt since the beginning, I replied,
“I had known that you were coming long ago. Besides, you could treat the masked version of me as an entirely separate personality. Right now, I am not the overpowered adventurer Satou Kazuma, but a high-bounty, most wanted criminal; the leader of the Masked Thieving Group. The time of full moon marks the peak of my righteous spirit, for in this moment, I am invincible. Undefeatable. And tonight… is no different!”
“Hey, Assistant-kun, are you sure you aren’t some sort of devil or demon? You’re only a normal human, right? Also, this is the Silver Haired Thieving Group, whose leader is me.”
I ignored Big Boss’ anticlimactic words. Though I still feel someone staring from behind, I ushered forward.
Because tomorrow, a certain batshit-insane person of nobility will be taking revenge for Megumin.
Considering how muscle-brained she is, I gave up negotiations the second I saw her steely eyes.
With that, the only time to steal the divine weapon of summoning would be before dawn.
As long as we can retrieve the weapon, we could give it as evidence to Darkness, and justly sue the noble for “threatening safety of Axel by summoning monsters”.
Thinking back, I was sent to Eris because of her, too. I’d also be a happy man if we found the evidence.
“Well well, I’ve been feeling a concentrated stare for quite a while now.”
“Ah! S-s-sorry! Your mask is so cool, I can’t help but…”
It seems to have belonged to Megumin behind me.
“Say, we’re about to reach the gates. Put on your bandana, Megumin; tonight, you’re one of us Silver Haired Thieves, you know?”
Hearing Chris’ order, Megumin’s eyes shined as she excitedly put on her bandana.
“…Very bad news Chris, this girl’s eyes are red, a bandana wouldn’t help at all!”
“What do we do Assistant-kun!? I didn’t consider this!”
The bandana that covered just her mouth only further emphasized her special features.
There are merely two crimson mages in town. It’d be a miracle if we weren’t recognized.
I passed my own mask to the obviously depressed Megumin.
“Can’t help it. You’ll have to wear my mask tonight. I’ll make do with your bandana. I guess for tonight, you’re the leader of the Masked Thieving Group!”
“Oi, Assistant-kun, shouldn’t we standardize the naming convention of these thieving groups? Besides, the leader is me!”
Megumin smiled brilliantly upon receiving the mask.
“When we had the bounty placed, didn’t Big Boss say ‘Masked Thieving Group’ was alright, and let me be its leader?”
“The news has died down. Plus, I was the original creator, of course it should be named after my characteristic silver hair!”
I started bantering with Chris as I put on Megumin’s bandana.
“I am confident with my naming abilities. I could provide one for this thieving group if you want.”
“Absolutely not.” x2
I disagreed synchronously with Chris.
—Using Sneak, we easily breached the gates of Axel and snuck into the forest under the moonlight.
“Kazuma, I feel so cool with this mask on. This mask can be said to have been designed for crimson demons… Can I keep it?”
“I’ve also taken a liking to this mask recently, so you cannot have it. Vanir sells those masks in his shop, though it’s quite often out of stock. Probably from its sheer popularity.”
Chris, seemingly intrigued by our conversation, asked,
“Is Vanir that guy with the mask? I only caught a few glances of him from afar, like when he was chasing away crows and was thus dubbed the ‘crowslayer’. He sounds like a good guy.”
…What is she even saying.
Are all the goddesses in this world blind or something?
No, I remember her saying that she uses a mortal body when wandering in the living world, so she has no godly perception. Could that be why she never caught Vanir’s true form?
Although I could picture terrifying events going down, I’m still morbidly curious about an encounter between Eris, Wiz and Vanir.
“—Oh, I see it. Come on Megumin, tonight we fight in vengeance for you. I don’t have a good image of that person either.”
As Chris spoke, Megumin cracked a smile as she looked upon the Mansion in the forest with sparkling red eyes.
“Come, let’s go!”
Probably to fend off the monsters, two guards stood in front of the gates.
I activated Sneak and approached them from the dark, preparing to neutralize them.
I only need to cover their mouths from behind then use Drain Touch.
…Suddenly, a rustling noise came from the opposite direction of my approach, to the guards’ 9 o’clock.
Both of them were alerted and turned left.
I took this chance and dashed forth with all my might. Each hand covering a mouth, I activated Drain Touch.
Seeing the two fall silently to the ground, Chris and Megumin came out from the woods.
“Uhm, you two seem to be veterans at this. Very impressive, especially Kazuma!”
The normally ungrateful Megumin admired us with respect.
The noise that caught the guards’ attention seems to have come from a rock that Chris tossed.
“We were the most wanted thieves that breached the defenses of an entire royal castle, mind you. This is but a piece of cake.”
Chris chuckled with pride.
“Why are you bringing this up now? You had clearly been an underling for the fake thieving group recently. Say, Big Boss, why do you keep getting into these interesting situations the second I stop paying attention?”
“How the hell would I know? By raw luck, I’m supposedly better off than you.”
Putting it that way, Chris made me realize just how many ugly situations I’ve also been through even with my remarkably good luck.
I passed through the mansion grounds as I pondered, and came to the back door.
“…No kidding, our luck sure is great.”
“And by ‘great’, I think you mean more like ‘jackpot’.”
“The ‘veteran’ title rings true, staying calm under even this kind of circumstance.”
We exchanged glances, thinking of what to do in this scenario.
“No matter who you are, please come save me!”
Before us was Carleen, trapped within the grasp of a tentacle monster.
“—Th-thank you so so much! I nearly lost something priceless that’s of utmost importance to nobles…”
Chris and I went forth and rescued Carleen from the tentacle monster, before realizing that we were in a cage.
Further down the room was a door, but it was sectioned off by metal bars.
Looking at the design, it was probably used to summon monsters safely from the other side.
“This is… Why does the back door lead to a prison!?”
Carleen, who had just caught her breath and stood up, coughed as she said,
“That’s not the back door, but the release gate for unvaluable monsters.”
Only then did Carleen turn cautious. She held up something and threatened us not to move.
“Big Boss, didn’t this person mention ‘unvaluable monsters’? She has to be a criminal!”
“Hold on Assistant-kun, I haven’t found the divine weapon yet!”
Seeing how casual we are, Carleen yelled a little furiously.
“Who are you two really!? Why did you intrude, knowing what kind of place this is!?”
“You’re that notorious Tennessee family, aren’t you? Well, tonight, we’re paying you a visit.”
Chris answered grandiosely.
“So that’s how. Us usurers make a plenty of enemies. You’re one of them, correct? Well, unfortunately, tonight you will be guinea pigs for my latest product!”
Having said that, Carleen raised the dangerous looking object high up—
Chris and I both activated our Steal and each obtained something.
We ignored the wide-eyed, screaming Carleen and inspected our loot.
“Sure I have it, but just what is this?”
“Ah, damn, I lost again! Why did I steal only panties yet again!”
The weapon Carleen was about to use ended up in Chris’ hands.
I only got white panties.
“Why is it that Kazuma’s steal is specialized for sexual harassment? …Hey, let me take a look. I think I’ve seen it before… No, not the panties, I mean the stone!”
Chris handed her stone over to Megumin. I in the meantime thought about what to do with the panties. Carleen glared at me furiously, what a magical situation.
“G-guards! We have intruders! They have unholy intents towards me!”
She finally remembered to call for help.
“This here is a forbidden magic weapon made from monster eggs. It can summon monsters, but that’s the extent of its abilities. It has no control over summoned monsters, and also summons at random. So, this is at most a ‘highly dangerous magical tool’.”
Hearing Megumin’s analysis, Carleen chuckled arrogantly.
“Only a ‘dangerous magical tool’? No, this is my magnum opus. By chance, it could summon monsters like large onion ducks and giant golden ants. So far, the most notable success was a baby dragon. Selling him alone has brought me more than enough money to cover for my ridiculous expenditures and wastes.”
We heard numerous footsteps outside. And now, putting some distance between us, Carleen took out a brand new stone from the shelf.
In other words, this chick summons monsters inside this partition. If it ends up being valuable, she sells it. If not, she opens the back door and releases them into the forest.
Eventually, as the discarded monsters accumulated, problems arose; and thus, the strongest adventurer in Axel—I—was called to clean up her mess.
“Big Boss, she is but a measly delinquent, just watch her admit to her own crimes.”
“Assistant-kun, you should never turn such a thought into words. Although, she’s only a letdown for me. Here I thought she had the divine weapon…”
“Be quiet you two; look, she’s blushing…”
Our calmness agitated Carleen to raise the second stone.
“Laughing in the face of death, you two can go repent in hell! The mansion security will also be here soon—”
Before Carleen could finish, we used Steal again.
“Still my win.”
“No, wait. To me, compared to that rock, this thing pleases me more. As for who won, I think I did.”
“What a dirty pervert. Saying that in front of us…”
In my hand are Carleen’s bras.
Chris has the stone.
“What the hell!? What are you two here for!?”
Now not only covering her crotch but also her breasts, Carleen glared back on the verge of tears.
“My lady, what is happening!?”
“Intruders! Capture them now!”
Carleen pridefully said to the mansion security.
—However, they were on the other side of the bars.
“Assistant-kun, this chick is hopeless.”
“I knew that from the start. Merely someone playing Gashapon (TL note: a Japanese toy sold from vending machines that functions like a Kinder Surprise) but with taboo magic.”
“What is a Gashapon? Forget that—why is she summoning monsters from inside the cage? She couldn’t have accidentally summoned one while cleaning the shelf, could she?”
Hearing my breakdown, Carleen’s face flushed to the maximum. Chris nodded in agreement.
“We’ve only been here for a short while, but I think it’s time to go. Take the magic toy as evidence for the Dustiness family.”
Carleen’s face instantly turned pale.
“H-hold on! I will not let you guys win! Even like this, as a high-tier noble, I can still make enough time for the security to come over—”
“Don’t, Assistant-kun! If you keep stealing, theft wouldn’t be your only crime!”
Chris hurriedly stopped my third steal on Carleen.
“What could go wrong? Let us just bare her nude form for all of her own servants to see!”
Megumin made such a cruel statement towards the Carleen who’s now only covered by a single dress. Realizing the severity of her situation, Carleen fell onto the floor and edged backwards, trembling in fear.
As Chris had said, it’s about time we retreated.
Possibly recognizing our style and attitude, Carleen exclaimed—
“I knew I’ve seen this mask somewhere before. You’re that Masked Thieving Group, aren’t you!? Our family won’t fall from a little forbidden item. Just you wait, I will raise your bounties tenfo—I’m just joking! Sorry!!”
She yelled in fear at a flick of my wrist.
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