CHAPTER 3: GUARDIANS OF CRIMSON MAGIC
Translator: Sine Nomine
“Good morning, Megumin. Have you had breakfast already?”
“Good morning. Lately, my sister has received tributes from many people. The leftovers are enough to fill my stomach.”
“D-Don’t you have any pride as a person?”
Today was Crimson Magic Clan holiday, so there was no school.
It was a cloudy day.
To help Buzucoily with his problem, Yunyun and I met up early in the morning.
“Fufu, Megumin, look at this!”
Yunyun took something out happily.
It was some kind of chessboard game.
Apparently, it was quite popular in the imperial city.
“Why do you have this?”
“It is a gift from my uncle who went on a trip to the imperial city. He even said something unintelligible like, ‘This cannot be played alone, so with this, you definitely can…’ or something like that, I don’t really get what he meant though…”
……It seemed like her uncle was worried about her too.
“I intended to bring it to school to play. Since Mr. Buzucoily isn’t here yet, should we have a game first?”
“……I don’t mind. I won’t lose in a game based on one’s intellect.”
We played the chessboard game on the grass patch.
“Then, I will start first…!”
—Thirty minutes later.
“Ugh! H-Here! My ‘Sword Master’ advances to this square!”
“‘Arch Wizard’ teleports to this square.”
“Megumin, using teleport is too despicable! …Uh, can we ban ‘Arch Wizard’?”
“No. Look, while you are complaining about this and that, I’m already in Rīchi.”
<Note (*): リーチ, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_Mahjong#R.C4.ABchi>
“Ah, wait, wait!”
—One hour later.
“Gre- Great. If this goes on, I can definitely can win…! Megumin, this is the end! Let ‘Crusader’ move to this square…”
“Ah! Megumin is too cunning. Flipping the chessboard is too sly!”
“But, this is in the rulebook. Look here, ‘When the Arch Wizard is left in your own base…’”
—Two hours later.
“Again! Megumin, please play with me one more time!”
“I will win, no matter how many times we play. Give it up… By the way, this game is very interesting. As the right of the winner, lend this to me for a few days.”
“Ah!, Wait, wait! …Also, the game rules are too strange! What’s with the Explosion, and the teleport! Which brain-dead idiot came up with this type of rules!”
Yunyun, who was about to cry, flicked at the chess piece unhappily.
“Anyway, Buzucoily is so slow. What is he doing?”
“……Want to call him?”
As Yunyun suggested, we went to Buzucoily’s house, which was nearby.
Buzucoily’s house managed the village’s best shoe shop.
Because there was only one shoe shop, so naturally it was the best.
As we entered the shop, we saw Buzucoily’s father, who was the shopkeeper.
“Sorry to disturb you, is Buzucoily around?”
“Oh, isn’t this Megumin? Welcome! My son is still sleeping.”
“Sorry, can you wake him? He told us, ‘I wish to discuss something with cute, naïve Lolita like you… Haha…’.”
Buzucoily’s father rushed upstairs immediately.
“Hey! Although it is somewhat similar to what he said, there is a significant difference!”
“That NEET made an appointment with us and he is still sleeping, he must be punished.”
We heard a roar and a scream from the second floor. A while later, Buzucoily ran downstairs.
“Ugh! Megumin! You are too much! My father suddenly shouted, ‘You bastard Lolicon!’ and woke me up with a beating!”
“You are the one who approached us for a discussion, yet you were still sleeping after the meeting time. Hurry up, let’s go.”
“Ah, wait! Let me change my clothes!”
—Buzucoily changed his clothes, and we went out together to the village’s only coffee shop, which has a unique menu.
“Yunyun, order whatever you like to eat. Buzucoily will be treating, no need to hold back. I want a sundae with the highest amount of calories.”
“That should be my line! Anyway, I don’t have much money…”
“Hm, I’m very full, so a drink will do… Megumin, didn’t you say you ate a lot this morning?”
After ordering, we sat down and started listening to Buzucoily’s troubles.
“Sorry for the bothering you today. What I want to discuss is… Actually, I… have someone I like.”
“Aren’t you a NEET!?”
“This has nothing to do with being NEET! Even a NEET wants to sleep and eat too, so of course we can fall in love!”
Buzucoily protested, but we ignored him.
“Lo- Love topic! Megumin, this is a love topic!”
“I can’t believe someone will consult me with a bitter sweet topic of romance… Anyway, who is the target? Is it someone we know? No… don’t tell me it is one of us…”
“Hey, don’t say such impolite words. Consider your own age. I’m not a Lolicon… Stop, you two stop! I’m my fault, please don’t pour chilli sauce into my coffee!”
Buzucoily apologized quickly. His expression suddenly became serious.
“……Well, the person I like is……”
—Possessing large amount of mana, Crimson Magic Clansmen usually engaged in magic-related work.
For example, magic item artisan, potion brewer and et cetera.
Apparently, Buzucoily’s love interest operated a divination shop. She liked to train, and would stay in the mountains to practice her sure kill moves during her free time. She was such a normal Crimson Magic Clansman that could be found anywhere.
We left the café and headed for her shop..
“To think that it is Soketto. You are just a NEET. Isn’t she too good for you?”
“What do you mean I am just a NEET? Can’t a NEET have great aspirations? Listen, Megumin, humans should have far-reaching ideals. It is the same with work. I don’t want to be a shoe-maker. I want to have a more respectable career…!”
“But if you wish to date a girl, it is best to find work first…”
We followed Buzucoily as he expounded his strange point of view, and discussed the matter involving Soketto.
“The other party is Soketto, the prettiest girl of Crimson Magic Clan. And this one is a NEET who has no virtue to speak of and is even too lazy to succeed his family business. He has no future… Buzucoily, we will play with you today, so why don’t you just give up?”
“Please don’t analyze so coldly! Maybe she is a weirdo who likes useless bums! Firstly, I must find out what kind of guy is her type.”
“It looks like you know very well that you are a bum. This gives me a favorable impression of you. Well, we are free anyway, so let’s just try our best.”
“Erm. If you know you are useless, why not work at being a responsible person? Although it is not a problem for us to ask her about her preferred type…”
Buzucoily walked quickly forward without looking back.
It looked like he wanted us to find out if Soketto has a boyfriend and what type of guys she would like.
This was the matter Buzucoily wanted to discuss with us.
“I feel that it is better for you to ask her about her preferred type directly. It would be easier to create a topic for conversation.”
“If I have such courage and social skills, I won’t be a NEET… Oh, it’s right ahead!”
Buzucoily made such hopeless statements confidently, and spied on Soketto’s shop from behind a tree.
Soketto, the prettiest girl of Crimson Magic Clan, was sweeping the floor in front of her divination shop.
For a beauty like Soketto, even the scene of her doing such trivial things was like a fine painting.
“Soketto is beautiful as always… I wish I can become some rubbish to be at her feet, and let her sweep me up…”
“Isn’t being a NEET close to being rubbish?”
We chatted and observed from a distance. Soketto stretched her back and returned to her shop.
At this moment, I had a flash of inspiration.
An inspired idea.
“Buzucoily! This is it!”
“What, what!? Transform into rubbish at her feet? No matter what, it is better to leave such strange ‘play’ after we started dating…”
“What idiotic thing are you saying! Not this! I have a good idea. Soketto’s job is divination. Her divination is very accurate, so let her tell your fortune! Let her foretell Buzucoily’s future lover!”
“Ah! This sounds good! It would be great if she herself appears in her vision! Saves the effort of confession. If successful, this would be awesome! But if some other girl appears in the vision, then it won’t work no matter how much effort you put in…”
Compared to confession followed by an instant rejection, this would less devastating.
After Buzucoily heard my suggestion.
“Don’t underestimate a NEET. If I have the money, I would have patronized her shop every day.”
“It looks like we can leave already.”
Buzucoily bowed his head and apologized as we prepared to go home.
But there was another problem.
“By the way, Miss Soketto went into her shop… Hey, if we go into her shop and ask her for her preferred type, isn’t it somewhat sudden and rude…?”
We were basically strangers to Soketto. We couldn’t ask such questions on the first encounter.
Buzucoily hugged his arms with a grave look.
“No other way. I need to acquire the money for divination…!”
There were a lot of strong monsters near Home of the Crimson Magic.
For the average adventurer, they were impossible to defeat. Even fleeing successfully would be difficult. Such monsters yielded fur and organs which can be sold at a high price.
With these monsters as targets, we entered the forest next to the village.
“Megumin… Is this really okay…? Even with Buzucoily’s company, if a large number of monsters attack at the same time…”
“No problem. This NEET is usually free, so he comes to this forest often to gain some allowance and experience points.”
“Stop it with the NEET this, NEET that, how irritating. Even NEET have human rights… But we haven’t seen any monsters so far. It is probably because the people who were free in the village have already driven off the powerful monsters, so Megumin and the rest of you can have your field training… Oh, found one!”
Buzucoily, who was walking in front, lowered his voice.
Following his gaze, we saw a black creature digging for tree roots.
This One Strike Bear had powerful forelimbs that can decapitate a man with one strike.
“One Strike Bear. Its liver can be sold for a good price… Good.”
Buzucoily started casting, then…
“Light of Refraction.”
He activated the magic he just casted.
At the same time, Buzucoily vanished before us.
He probably used an invisibility magic that utilized light refraction.
Judging from the grass that were trampled, he was approaching while still invisible.
At this moment, the One Strike Bear stood up suddenly, and used its nose to sniff at the surrounding.
Looked towards us.
From our hiding place, our eyes met with those of the One Strike Bear. It roared excitedly as it found prey, and charged at us.
“Yunyun, I remember you got a dagger…! Take it out! My cool rival Yunyun, please fight for me!”
“Usually, you would merely patronize me. Don’t wait for times like this to treat me as a rival, okay!? A dagger like this won’t work against this kind of monster!”
We couldn’t run away even if we wanted to, since the One Strike Bear was too fast!
By the way, Buzucoily!
Where was Buzucoily?
“Where did that NEET go? Quickly defeat it!”
“Ahahah, don’t come here!”
Just as the One Strike Bear came near to us.
“Light of Saber!”
Buzucoily suddenly appeared out of nowhere, and slashed with his hand as he shouted.
A flash of light emitted from his hand.
The light passed through the One Strike Bear from behind.
From its shoulder to its belly, the light flashed past. The One Strike Bear took a few steps towards us, and fell apart in two pieces along the cut caused by the light.
“Phew… Normally, even if it smelled me, it would only look around and relax soon after… Are you two alright? My timing is perfect, right? If Soketto is in danger and I appeared just like this… Ouch! Hey, wait! Sorry, no, waiting for the perfect moment to debut should be the standard thing to do for the Crimson Magic Clan!”
Yunyun and I continually hit Buzucoily’s shoulders without saying a word.
“—Seriously, don’t joke around in such a dangerous place. If we don’t clean up the corpse immediately, other monsters will smell the blood and come over.”
After falling over, Buzucoily finally stood up, and swept away the dirt on his clothes.
“After making us angry, you are still shameless enough to say this? Quickly, retrieve the bear’s liver, and leave this place.”
When Crimson Magic Clansmen hunted in a group, they would intentionally leave the corpse to lure other monsters over.
But we only have this NEET as our fighting force.
Yunyun pulled on my clothes.
I looked towards her. Yunyun’s face was pale, and she was looking behind us.
“Ov- Over there…”
She shivered slightly, and pointed in a direction.
I had a very bad feeling about it, and turned to look…!
“Run! Buzucoily, forget the bear’s liver! The battle is lost!”
“Waaahhhh! Wait, wait for meeeee!”
That was an entire sleuth* of One Strike Bears, which were furious over the killing.
Note (*): Yes, a sleuth of bears… See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/sleuth
“—Yunyun, it is almost noon. We should go back.”
“Yeah, then I’ll see you tomorrow in school.”
“Wait! Don’t abandon me, you two! Please…!”
After we escaped back to the village, we intended to go home, but Buzucoily shamelessly pestered us.
Because he lured away the entire sleuth of One Strike Bears, he was currently covered in mud.
He looked really dirty just like that, and he was even crying pathetically before us. Seeing a NEET who was older than us act like this, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for him…
“……Sigh. I understand. As an adult, please don’t kneel before a student. We will keep you company for a little while more… But what should we do? The plan to let her foretell Buzucoily’s future lover is already…”
“By the way, why would One Strike Bears gather in groups? One Strike Bears are not social animals by nature…”
Buzucoily complained in despair.
“Father also mentioned that the situation in the forest is very strange recently. Maybe it is related to the appearance of those strange monsters?”
Yunyun raised the question, while she was deep in thought. But there was no way for us to know the answer.
“In any case, it will be pointless staying here. Let’s go back to Soketto’s shop.”
—We walked towards her shop as I suggested…
“……There’s a sign saying the shop is closed. Did Miss Soketto leave for somewhere?”
Buzucoily patted hard on our shoulders…
“I know all about Soketto, we are really close after all. Firstly, Soketto will wake up at 7am, such a healthy lifestyle. Then, she will toss the bed sheet into the laundry basket, and prepare breakfast. But Soketto eats udon noodles daily. How deep is her love for udon? She will boil the water in the pot, and brush her teeth in the meantime, so efficient. Her face is pretty, and she is smart too. Soketto is so clever. After eating the noodles, she will wash the utensils for breakfast and the previous night’s dinner. She soaks the cutlery used the previous night in water, so clever. She will make a good wife. Soketto will then take a bath. To bathe in the morning, she is so hygienic. She bathes in the morning and night, that’s why her skin is so smooth and lovely. After bathing, she will put her clothes into the laundry basket and wash them. This is it. This is a serious problem. Because she washes her clothes immediately, it is troublesome for me. No, nothing troublesome. Yeah, really, It doesn’t bother me, actually… It really doesn’t bother me. After all, I did not do anything obscene. After washing her clothes, she will go for a walk. Soketto’s lifestyle is so healthy. After a short walk, she will go to her shop. As you have already seen, she will clean her shop. She really loves cleanliness, and she is so good at housework. After cleaning, she will enter and stay in the shop. It must be boring to stay inside the shop. If I have the money, I will visit her every day. If there are no customers, Soketto will feel bored and go outside to do stretching exercises or look around to see if anyone is coming, she look so cute. She’s not just pretty, but cute as well. This is definitely foul play. Soketto is so cute. She will then close the shop and run off somewhere, just abandoning her business like that. She is so free-spirited, or should I say, she is freedom exemplified. Look, I’m a NEET devoted to freedom. In this aspect, we are compatible. Well, let’s leave it here for now. It should be two hours before Soketto returns. Although waiting here is fine too… what should we do?”
With his eyes sparkling, Buzucoily provided intensely detailed information.
“……It seems like you are always looking at her. So scary… How do you know so much details?”
“Basically, whenever I’m free, I will come here and investigate. And I’m not bragging when I say I’m the freest person in the village.”
He really wasn’t bragging.
“This, this must be what is known as a stalker.”
“Hey, Yunyun, if you say that again, I won’t forgive you even if you are the chief’s daughter.”
This man… It might be beneficial to society if we knocked him out and buried him alive.
“In any case, there’s nothing we can do if Soketto is not here. So let’s leave today…”
Yunyun nodded as well, affirming my suggestion.
“No matter. I know where she will be going.”
Buzucoily said confidently.
“She’s really here.”
I didn’t know if we should be happy that we found her, or if we should hand Buzucoily over to the police for knowing so much details about her.
Led by Buzucoily, we harbored mixed feelings as we watched Soketto from a distance. She was picking items in a convenience store.
“How is it? I’m someone who can accomplish something if I set my mind on it. This degree of investigation is simple enough.”
I already said this was not an investigation, but a stalking…
“…Anyway, she is outside the shop this time. Even if we go over to talk, it won’t seem unnatural. Yunyun and I will nonchalantly ask her preferred type of guys. Go, Yunyun. Coordinate with me.”
“I understand. Let’s ask quickly and put this worrying matter to rest.”
I brought along the weary Yunyun, and entered the convenience store where Soketto was.
“Hey, Yunyun, look. Isn’t this cute?”
“Rea- Really cute! If you give this to your loved one, surely… Uh? You mean this? This wooden sword with the carvings of a dragon!?”
I started such a perfect opening, yet Yunyun spoiled the effect with her unnecessary additions.
(Yunyun, be serious and coordinate with my topic!)
(Bu- But, Megumin’s taste is too weird! No matter what, I cannot accept this kind of thing!)
As we were whispering to each other, Soketto came beside me.
“Ah, so cute. The carved dragon is beautiful. If you hang it by the waist, it would match you if you wore it at your waist when you are out taking a stroll.”
Hearing Soketto’s words, Yunyun exclaimed loudly.
“Truly, this is a practical and cute high-quality item… By the way, I will like to nonchalantly ask, what do you like…… Yunyun, what are you doing!?”
Just as I was about to naturally ask Soketto what she liked, Yunyun suddenly interrupted me by pulling my arm.
(You are being not natural at all! Besides, is my taste really weird? As expected, the weird one is me? I can’t see what is so cute about this wooden sword!)
(Yunyun’s taste has always been weird. You even gave my cat a weird name like ‘Kuro’… Ahah!)
As we were arguing softly, Soketto bought her items and left the shop.
“What were you doing? The initial development earlier wasn’t bad!”
Buzucoily came over to us, who were still arguing.
“Hey, you two, what are you doing! Soketto has already left!”
“Sigh. I was just one move short, because of the unexpected interference… Anyway, why would a dangerous person who hangs a dagger by her waist every day dislike a wooden sword?! Enough, how long are you going to grumble? We should be leaving!”
“Don’t compare my beautiful dagger to that kind of wooden sword!”
“The two of you. If you want to quarrel, do it later!”
—Soketto held the wooden sword dubbed previously as “very cute” in her hands, walking happily before us.
“……For Soketto to walk and swing the wooden sword at the same time… This behavior is also very cute…”
“In the eye’s of others, she is probably just a dangerous person.”
I listened to their lightly-muttered argument, and observed Soketto, who was swinging the wooden sword back and forth in one hand.
We were using Buzucoily’s magic to follow her invisibly from behind.
“It looks like she really like that wooden sword. Ah, she is using that sword to slash at the leaves falling from the tree. Is she going to train?”
Unaware of us following behind, Soketto used the wooden sword to hit the tree branches, and even started kicking it to get the leaves to fall.
“I, I say, what do you like about Miss Soketto? For Mr. Buzucoily, is she still in your strike zone even as she is currently kicking the tree?”
“It’s her looks. I like Soketto’s face and body figure. If it’s a beauty, even those actions can be considered as cute.”
Hearing Buzucoily speak without hesitation— or rather, without delusion, Yunyun had nothing more to say. I suddenly thought of an plan.
“Buzucoily. Why not pretend to walk by casually, and help her nonchalantly, how about that? You can use wind magic to blow the leaves down the tree and help her train.”
“This is it! You are truly Crimson Magic Clan’s top genius! Megumin’s intellect is so sharp!”
“Ah! I, I also thought of a way for Mr. Buzucoily to be popular with girls! For example, comb your messy hair after waking up, find a job or something…”
He did not listen to Yunyun, who was trying to compete with me again. Instead, he maintained his invisibility and moved close to Soketto.
Soketto was blown off by Buzucoily’s tornado into the sky—
“Is that guy an idiot! That guy is an idiot!?”
“Let’s bury him. Bury this dead NEET and forget about it!”
After ensuring that Soketto was unharmed, we hurriedly left the scene, and strangled Buzucoily’s neck.
“Wait! Both of you, calm down! Also, be quiet! Or we’ll be discovered!”
After being blown into the sky, Soketto used her own wind magic to maintain her balance and return to the ground with some difficulty. The paleness of her face could be seen clearly even from a distance so far away.
She looked around with her bloodshot eyes, perhaps looking for the criminal who used the wind magic.
Buzucoily’s magic imposed optical camouflage on our surroundings. As long as our actions are not too extreme, Soketto would not be able to find us.
At this moment, Yunyun tightly grabbed Buzucoily’s chest, and interrogated him quietly.
“Don’t you like Miss Soketto!? Then why did you use such deadly magic!?”
“No, no! Since I can only use advanced magic, I cannot weaken its effect…! Actually, I wanted to blow the leaves off at the start! But I realized that when the wind magic gets near her, her skirt will…”
“Let’s bury him.”
“Yes, bury him.”
“Wait, wait! Please, listen to me!”
While we were still arguing, Soketto had already walked off with a vexed expression.
It looked like she gave up searching for the criminal.
“Yes… No matter what, it’s good that she’s not hurt. And… we also know what color she likes to wear. This is great.”
Yunyun and I shouted together:
“Miss Soketto!” x2
“Hey, hey, Wait—!”
—It was almost time for lunch.
I should go back early to have lunch with Komekko…
“Wait! Both of you, don’t just abandon me like this!”
I would wash the dirty clothes that were piling up, then play with her for a while…
“I’m begging you, don’t ignore me! This is too much! I used so much effort to avoid discovery earlier! She nearly saw my face!”
Then, bathe with her, and wash that furball as well…
“I’m begging you! Pleasseee!”
“You are so noisy! Can you not follow us? Or have you decided to include us in your stalking list!? You should give up while it is still early, and find an easier target!”
“As Megumin said, give up early… By the way, there is a kind of cute monster called Tranquility Girl near the Home of the Crimson Magic…”
“Why are you giving me such information? Are you asking me to make do with some monster!? You look so honest, I can’t believe you said something so excessive!”
The stalker cried out loudly as we decided to go home once more.
—After shaking off Soketto’s pursuit with some difficulty, Buzucoily had been pestering us ever since.
“…Seriously, it’s useless no matter how much you beg. We are not as idle as you. Students are different from NEET our rest time is very important.”
“Please make time for me! I will treat both of you to lunch!”
Buzucoily bowed his head and placed his hands together as if he was praying.
“We are not kids. We won’t be taken in by such tricks, right, Megumin… Eh?”
Yunyun looked at me who had willingly left with Buzucoily, and cried out.
“We will fill our stomachs, while we plan our next move.”
“Hey, Megumin, is this really okay!? …I, I will help too, don’t leave me behind!”
—In the village’s only café.
“In any case, the main issue is creating an opportunity.”
I raised my index finger as I ate the mutton sandwich in large bites.
Buzucoily hungrily watched Yunyun and I ate our lunch.
This NEET spent almost his entire savings to treat us to a meal.
“Exactly. Currently, you have no relationship whatsoever with Soketto, right? Therefore, Yunyun and I will be responsible for getting you to know her. Actually, the best way is to be a frequent customer at her shop. But this is impossible for someone with no income. So let us create the opportunity to meet.”
“I, I understand!”
“Hey, how to create that opportunity? Do you have a plan?”
Hearing Yunyun’s words, I finished up the fruit juice after the meal.
“Very simple. Firstly, Yunyun will wear a mask and attack Soketto with her dagger. Buzucoily will then coincidentally pass by…”
“It is decided then!”
“No! Do you have a hole in your brain!? Do you have a hole in your brain!?”
At this time, the coffee shop owner said to us, who were still arguing.
“Since the beginning, I keep hearing Soketto’s name. What do you want with her? She went into the forest with a wooden sword.”
“No, it’s nothing…… Forest?”
Hearing the shopkeeper’s words, Yunyun and I looked at each other.
Maybe he realized our intentions.
Buzucoily said with self-satisfaction—
“The forest huh. Soketto goes into the forest every day. That is part of her daily schedule. Since she likes training, she will visit the forest to hunt monsters alone. She likes Fire Drake, particularly freezing the Fire Drake and laughing as she stared at it. Speaking of which, her hobby is very similar to mine. As you know, I am a NEET and have a lot of time to spare, that’s where the ice comes in. I will freeze water into ice and watch the ice melt to idle away the entire day. I think this is similar to Soketto’s hobby, right? Hmm, It’s not? Sigh, never mind, whatever, Anyway, Soketto enters the forest daily to train, and her combat style is very elegant. She seems to like lightning magic. The lightning effect is very beautiful after all. I think it matches the beautiful Soketto very well. Sorry, I’m derailing the topic again. And so, If she enters the forest at this time, it is definitely for training. She should be reaching Level 50 soon, so amazing, not many Crimson Magic Clansmen are at Level 50. She can be considered a first rate adventurer. Beautiful, cute, and powerful, that’s foul play, Soketto is so amazing. Soketto looks so pretty when she fights. The Soketto that finished fighting makes my heart skips. Her sweat sticks her beautiful black hair to her fair cheeks and the nape of her neck. That’s definitely foul play, Soketto is so foul play, so how can I not burn with desire? I wish she could take the responsibility to the end, really. But forget it, it doesn’t matter. No, actually it matters, but it’s fine now. In any case, entering the forest at this time means she is training. There is no mistake. She should be laughing and chasing a One Strike Bear, or freezing a Fire Drake’s feet happily and having fun right now. I want to see, I really want to see, why don’t we go and take a look? Yes, it is decided then, let’s go. And we can enjoy Soketto’s smile together, it’s settled then. Yes, let’s do it!”
“You are really scary. And instead of these dangerous personal data, the important thing now is…! When we entered the forest earlier, we were attacked by a sleuth of One Strike Bears, right? I heard the nature of the monsters are a bit strange lately. If Soketto enters the forest at this time…”
“Hey, hey, wait. Is this really okay!? Hey, since there are witness reports of strange monster attacks, why not ask the villagers to…”
Yunyun and I exchanged words. Buzucoily coughed softly, and stood up.
“We must go…”
Spoken like a male protagonist who knew that the heroine was in danger.
“Mr. Bu, Buzucoily…?”
Surprised, Yunyun looked at the serious-looking Buzucoily as he stood up.
“I will enter the forest immediately! I will find Soketto as soon as possible…!”
Hearing this, Yunyun’s face suddenly seemed to glow.
“This, this is it! This is it! The Mr. Buzucoily from a moment ago… feels so very…!”
Yunyun clenched her fists and sighed sentimentally.
“Soketto could already be attacked by the sleuth of One Strike Bears…! If I made a dramatic entrance again, what would happen? If I saved Soketto from danger, I can reach my goal in one move!? …? Yunyun, what did you want to say earlier?”
“No, I just felt that you deserve to be eaten by a One Strike Bear.”
We entered the forest again, only to find it has changed completely.
“…What happened here? It seems like there was an abnormally intense fight.”
There were signs of combat at the forest entrance.
The nearby trees were all burnt, probably by the use of fire or lightning magic.
And, between the blackened trees, lay the smoking corpse of a One Strike Bear.
“The charred smell of the trees have not dispersed yet. It seems the magic user is still nearby.”
Buzucoily said after checking the combat scene. He raised his alertness and went forward.
“By the way, we can’t use magic yet, so aren’t we a liability? Why should we follow then? If a One Strike Bear appears, the only thing we can do is to scream and run away.”
“Yeah, to be honest, I really want to go home…”
“What are you saying? If it is only me, a conversation cannot be established even after meeting Soketto. To be honest, when faced with a woman of my age in the village, I have no confidence that I can start a conversation.”
“What’s the use of saying this in such a cocky manner? Yunyun, you tell him too… Yunyun?”
“!? Wha- What!?”
Yunyun was in shock after the topic of communication barrier was brought up. She suspiciously looked away.
……So there was another person here with communication barriers.
—At this instant.
A flash of light descended from the sky to the ground not far from here.
Following someone’s shout, a flash of light from the sky illuminated the trees. Lightning descended with a thunderous sound.
The One Strike Bear that was struck by the lightning fell over with black smoke rising from its head.
Perhaps due to the instinct of wild animals, the other One Strike Bears kept their distance and shivered in fear at the thunderous roar.
A woman with flaming crimson eyes stood in the midst of them.
Holding the wooden sword, red-eyed Soketto happily began casting her spell.
This must be the magic that charred the trees earlier.
As Soketto’s voice rang out, light flashed from the sky, penetrating the head of the One Strike Bear which was paralyzed by fear.
At the time when the second bear was defeated, Buzucoily rushed forward.
His expression was different from his usual idle NEET look.
It was the look of a Crimson Magic Clansman, determined to protect his loved one.
Buzucoily’s eyes glowed crimson, aggressively casting his spell and releasing vast amount of mana.
Thereafter, the One Strike Bears noticed the presence of new enemies, and started taking action.
At this moment, magic hit with accuracy.
“Hell fire, burn everything to ashes! Inferno!”
The highest level fire magic was unleashed at full power—!
……even engulfing Soketto in its area of effect.
“Mi- Mis- Miss Soketto!”
“NEET, what are you doing! Quickly! Quickly rescue her…!?”
Forget the One Strike Bears, even the surrounding trees were engulfed in flames. And Soketto, with her entire body wrapped in a thin layer of water, slowly walked towards us out of the fire.
It looked like she managed to react at the last moment and used a defensive water magic on herself.
“Goo- Good to see her unharmed…!”
“Yeah! My heart nearly jumped out…! Buzucoily, douse the fire quickly! Or the entire forest will burn down!”
Hearing me, Buzucoily hurriedly used water magic to extinguish the flames.
Although he was an indecent NEET, he was still a Crimson Magic Clansman who could use advanced magic.
Buzucoily’s full-power attack annihilated the entire sleuth of One Strike Bears.
Now, there were sparks everywhere. With her defensive water layer removed, Soketto looked at Buzucoily with moist eyes.
Was it because of battle? Or was there some other reason?
Soketto’s cheeks flushed crimson. She seemed to be struggling to decide what to say.
The nervous Buzucoily blushed, and glanced straight at Soketto.
But, this NEET who was somewhat cool earlier, failed at this crucial moment.
He was too nervous, unable to say anything.
“……There’s something Buzucoily wanted to say to Soketto.”
My words caused the other three people to suck in their breath.
Yunyun’s face flushed red, as she watched this development.
Buzucoily was very nervous, as if he was accusing me for saying unnecessary things.
“As it happens, Buzucoily. I have something I want to say to you too.”
Soketto said something unexpected, surprising me, Yunyun, and even Buzucoily.
“This, this…! Don’t tell me, it is…!”
“Correct. My feelings must be the same as yours right now.”
Soketto smiled gently.
Seeing the smile of this beauty, Buzucoily’s face became red like a tomato.
Was it because he saved her life while she was in danger?
Was this the suspension bridge effect, which would make one fall in love with whoever was present in the moment of danger?
I felt it wasn’t fair for this NEET to win the heart of the village’s most beautiful woman. But after seeing red-faced Yunyun’s sparkling eyes, I felt it wasn’t that bad.
Buzucoily strengthened his resolve, clenched his fists, and said to Soketto—
“From the beginning, I, I…!”
“If you really hate me this much, just say it. As it happens, we are both in the forest now. I heard you were like me, often coming into the forest to train. Thus, you should be qualified to be my opponent… Come, let’s end this!”
Except for Soketto, the remaining three of us cried out in surprise.
“I don’t know why you hate me so much! Since long ago, you have been tailing me, but today is really something special! Never mind the tornado that nearly killed me in the village. This time, you even sneak attack me with hellfire, while I was preparing to kill those monsters! Eh, eh, you are quite capable. I have fought so many monsters, yet this is the first time I ended in such a plight!”
Soketto held her wooden sword, and made an ominous sound, “Kacha!”
“No, no, no, no! It isn’t like that! You are mistaken! That magic earlier was meant to rescue you from being surrounded by monsters…! I’m very sorry you were engulfed in it. I didn’t control it properly just now!”
Buzucoily’s face turned pale, and repeatedly shook his hands to explain. Soketto relaxed her grip on the wooden sword, and frowned.
“……Then, what was the tornado earlier about? And you were invisible, right? Your identity was exposed long ago. After all, you are the only person to stalk me every day.”
Buzucoily glanced at us. His eyes were begging for our assistance.
We pointed at Buzucoily together and said.
“He said he wanted to flip up your skirt.” X2
Soketto raised her wooden sword, and slashed at Buzucoily.
In the shop where pale violet curtains hung on all sides, Soketto said in resignation.
“Sigh. Both of you have really been dragged into serious trouble. You must have been pestered by this pervert, and thus were forced to help him, right?”
After returning from the forest, we came to Soketto’s shop, and Buzucoily was bandaged.
“Hey, don’t call me a pervert. My motives are pure. This was simply a wizard’s pure desire for knowledge, wanting to find out what color the females of Crimson Magic Clan like… I’m very sorry. That really wasn’t my intention. Please put away the wooden sword.”
Buzucoily, who was being bandaged, hurriedly explained as Soketto’s hand reached towards the wooden sword set against the wall.
Buzucoily was in a horrible state after being subjected to the wooden sword. He was currently being bandaged by Yunyun.
Soketto looked at him, and sighed deeply.
“……Seriously, if you wanted a divination so badly that you would hunt monsters in the forest to pay for the fee, you might as well come directly to me. At least, I can charge you cheaper for the first time.”
“Is that really okay!?”
—In the end, this cowardly NEET could not even say his real reason for entering the forest.
He only made up an excuse, “As I wanted my fortune told, I came to the forest to make some money.”
And even “coincidentally” encountered Soketto being surrounded by monsters, then “conveniently” used magic on her.
“I’ll ignore the tornado magic and nearly being burnt alive in the forest for now— But that was because you want to help me escape the encirclement of the monsters. Fine… What kind of divination do you desire? I’ll only do it once.”
Soketto took a crystal ball from within the room, and brought it before Buzucoily.
“I want to know, uh… my future girlfriend… no, wife… no, no, the person who will love me? …Ah, who would she be?”
Buzucoily lost sight of his original intention in one moment.
“Basically, it is about your future lover. This crystal ball will show the woman who would very likely become your spouse. The future can be changed, so I cannot guarantee that this person will definitely… Oh, we should be seeing it soon…!”
Soketto’s crystal ball started to glow softly.
Finally, the glow faded…!
“……I didn’t see anything.”
Soketto was even more surprised now than when she was blown off by the tornado. She shook the crystal ball vigorously.
“Wait, wait a moment. I don’t know what’s going on. This shouldn’t be possible… Whoever it may be, he should at least have a prospective lover…!”
“You probably should keep such a hurtful revelation to yourself.”
Since the crystal ball showed nobody, then Buzucoily and Soketto could not possibly end up together.
Soketto looked at Buzucoily, who was about to cry, in pity.
“……Uh, no problem. My divination is not 100% accurate… I divined the weather once when I was young, the prediction was cloudy weather for tomorrow, but it rained for about five minutes…”
“Please stop! I can’t make out whether you are trying to comfort me or brag about your predictive accuracy! What is this! It is worse than being rejected directly!”
Yunyun and I kept a distance from them, and discussed softly.
“This is too pitiful even for a NEET. If the crystal ball showed nothing, that means even the woman-shaped monster that Yunyun joked about, the Tranquility Girl, would not love him…”
“What should I do? I, I did not think my joke would be this excessive…”
“You two! I heard that! If you really have to say it, please do it quietly!”
—After Buzucoily nearly cried and left the shop.
“By the way, since I was busy with the divination earlier, I forgot about this— Leaving the two spells aside for now, why was he following me every day?”
“This… Please do not ask anymore. This is for Buzucoily’s sake.”
Hearing my reply, Soketto tilted her head in confusion.
She watched the silhouette of Buzucoily, who was dragging his feet back home in despair.
“Although he is a useless guy, but he seems quite interesting. How mysterious…”
Soketto said, as she tossed the crystal ball in her hand.
On the road, after leaving Soketto’s shop.
“It still failed in the end. In any case, I think Mr. Buzucoily should find a job first…”
“They are incompatible to start with. After all, I have been Buzucoily’s neighbor since I was small, so I know him well. He is completely useless.”
Yunyun, who was walking beside me, turned around after hearing this.
“He is like Megumin’s older brother… Uh, uh, you two should be considered as childhood friends, right? Hey, Megumin, would you ever fall in love with Mr. Buzucoily?”
I retorted Yunyun immediately, as she entertained some foolish hope.
“Is, is that so… I have always been wondering. Does Megumin only desire food? Don’t you ever want to have a remarkable love affair?”
“I still have an onerous mission to complete. Now is not the time to be in heat.”
I replied bluntly, but Yunyun refused to stop pestering me.
“But, but, Megumin will become an adventurer one day. An adventurer would be a member of a party, eating and living together, helping each other out…”
“True. I heard that among adventurers, the chance of marrying a party member is rather high… but it probably won’t happen to me.”
“You sound so certain. Well, I can’t imagine a scene where Megumin embarrassingly sticks herself to a guy…”
As we spoke, we arrived at my house.
“In any case, if I fall in love… it would be with a cool hero who never gives up in the face of adversity.”
“I feel that Megumin will unexpectedly marry an ordinary person…”
After bidding Yunyun farewell, I entered the house.
“Welcome home, sis!”
Komekko ran over with Kuro in her arms.
Kuro appeared tired, allowing Komekko to carry it as she pleased. It must have gone through a lot during my time outside.
“Sis, let’s eat dinner! There’s a lot of delicious food!”
……A lot of delicious food?
“Delicious food? What happened? You acquired food from someone else again?”
“Buzucoily brought them. He said when I grow up, I will definitely be a beauty, then I must go to his house…”
Before Komekko finished talking, I charged out of the house, heading to the shoe shop to beat someone up.
INTERLUDE: SCENE 3
—Crimson Magic Clan’s Number 1 Femme Fatale Little Sister—
The puzzle was solved on the second day.
“……I hate those people from Crimson Magic Clan.”
“I also belong to Crimson Magic Clan.”
“Except for you.”
Hoost and I lay before the puzzle. We thought we would be done with it, but yet another different puzzle appeared on the third day.
“Ah, this won’t do. I can’t solve this. By the way, you probably can’t solve this puzzle either. Something of this level can’t possibly be solved by a kid.”
“Sis said that when someone dampens your enthusiasm, you must keep moving forward.”
I lay on the ground, swinging my legs and working on the puzzle at the same time.
“Hey, you are being improper. Your feet are muddy. Sigh…”
Hoost cleared away the mud on my cloak, while I concentrated on the puzzle without concern.
“……Hey, what is this, you are quite competent! There should be a solution in this way!? Uh, what’s wrong? Are you stuck somewhere?”
I put the half-done puzzle pieces on the ground, and closed my eyes. It had been going without a hitch so far.
“I’m tired of this.”
“I beg you, Komekko! You already came so far, don’t give up now! Do you want to eat something!? You must be hungry! I will bring some food immediately.”
Hearing this, I got up and continued solving the puzzle.
“Good, good! Maintain this attitude! I will be right back with some food!”
Hoost spread his wings and flew off.
“Ah! I want to go too! Bring me along!”
“Id- Idiot! I can’t bring a brat like you into the forest! A brat like you would be eaten by monsters in an instant!”
“I want to go! I want to go! Hoost is strong, so it’s okay!”
“Well, it’s true that I’m strong! After all, whenever I entered the forest, the other monsters would run away!”
“Lord Hoost is so cool!”
—In the end, Hoost was persuaded.
“—Ha… Ha…! You, you are messing around too much! Hey, you’re nearly falling off!”
“There’s a huge lizard over there! Hoost, that one! Catch that lizard!”
“Listen to me when I’m speaking!”
Hoost carried me into the forest in his arms.
“……You see, it’s your fault, Komekko. It ran away because you shouted so loudly. Many monsters would run away after sniffing the scent of a greater demon like me. I frequently go into the forest in order to find food for you. There should be a bunch of monsters that escaped wandering around the entrance of the forest.”
“……After I grow up and become strong, will I frighten away monsters too?”
“Who knows? No matter how strong you get, a little bean sprout like you will probably not scare away monsters! Hahahaha!”
Hoost laughed as he put me down. At this moment, there was movement in the trees before us.
“Oh, it still is coming over even after sensing my presence? This one must be pretty strong.”
“Hey, if I frighten off the monster here, does it mean I’m stronger than Hoost?”
“Hahaha! Oh, oh no, my belly hurts! Hahaha. Well, if this is true, you are really stronger than me. But, this forest is home to many frightening monsters… Once you see them, you better not pee your pants.”
“I don’t pee my pants! I will chase it off!”
Hearing this, Hoost laughed heartily.
“Oh, if you think you can do it, you should try it! If you can drive it away, I will call you Lady Komekko from now on!”
From among the rustling trees, a huge bear suddenly emerged.
“……One Strike Bear. Even a sleuth of them. Dealing with this many is difficult indeed. No other choice. I’ll spare them this time…”
Hoost said and turned his back.
At this moment, I charged towards the bears.
—Hoost cried out and charged towards the bears.