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Guild Master – Chapter 41

TL note: sorry for disappearing again for weeks. Lately I’ve had a lot of deadlines looming on me and two weeks ago I had a splitting headache that lasted four days, so I’m currently struggling with catching up to the schedule I wanted to follow (guess who won’t be able to catch up to anything).
Next one will be New Game 37, but I don’t know when the chapter will be ready. I’ll try my best at least to make it worth the wait.

The phantom fox’s blizzard and the true form of the Charming goddess of wrath

There are two kind of “caves” in the Kingdom of Albein. The first one is a cave that’s been formed naturally, so a normal cave without class difficulty.

The other one is a “dungeon”, a cave counting at least two floors that have been formed artificially by humans, monsters or spirits.

The Water Cave is an underground dungeon made by a group of monsters that was abandoned when their ruler died. It is now owned by water spirits, which have changed the environment to fit their needs.

As the power of the spirits matured, other creatures found the dungeon to be a comfortable place and became attracted by it, while its former residents desperately tried to find a new place they could call home.

Still, some creatures, like the goblins, decided to stay and adapt to the new environment: their race could adjust to any kind of situation, that’s why ‘frozen goblins’ and ‘heat goblins’ exist. The process wasn’t always easy, and many ended up losing their lives, but once they adapted, their numbers increased sharply.

Frozen goblins live in the first floor of the Water Cave in groups that count dozens of them and they have a proclivity to attack adventurers due to their bold and aggressive temperament, but a C rank adventurer can manage to repel them. They pose no threat for a B rank one.
Even though goblins’ peculiarity is using poisonous attacks, the ones living in the Water Cave had nothing that could be turned into poison. Also, if they were to leave their dungeon to cause troubles or to remedy their lack of poison stuck, the adventurer’s guild would request several expeditions of at least C rank adventurers to take care of them.

Putting goblins aside, the others creatures of the first floor hardly attack people, so they can be ignored. Sometimes a frozen slime pops out of nowhere, but they don’t pose a threat, especially if we think that they’re served as a delicacy in the town nearby the lake east of the Water Cave.
Still, preparing them takes some time and they aren’t recommended as opponents for amateurs. Selling them yielded quite a few money, but without at least a B rank adventurer helping with the seizure, one could even face death.

Frozen slimes, as the name suggests, are slime enemies, so they seize their foe by incorporating them into their slimy body and eat their equipment by melting it. They usually don’t attack living creatures, since they only feed on inorganic matter, but it might be a problem if an adventurer ends up seized by one of them.
But if that was to happen anyway, bringing some salt with yourself will save you, since frozen slimes despise it for some reason and usually run away from it.

Salt isn’t the only option to get rid of them… but let’s leave the alternatives to your imagination. I strongly suggest the salt way, given that once the threat is gone you might not feel at your best (especially on a mental level).

Going further in the dungeon, the second floor is house of snow wolves, so it’s common to meet and fight them. They can use their Ice Breath ability, which can annihilate a C rank adventurer in the blink of an eye, and they usually hunt in packs of ten, so if they were to use it simultaneously, they would surely pose a deadly threat.
The best way to avoid that outcome is to attack them first and bring some down right away, so that their combined Ice Breath becomes only a threat and not a death flag. Probably only a team of B rank adventurers or stronger ones can handle them.

Once the snow wolves have been defeated, they flee and never attack the same target again. They usually run to nearby monsters to have some sort of defence against their former pray, so an average party of B rank adventurers shouldn’t chase them around too much.

Also, the wolves are smart, since their “allies” can be a handful even for A rank adventurers. That’s why the quests posted in the adventurer’s guild that ask to venture down to the Water Cave’s second floor and further specify that the ‘potential danger is for A rank adventurers and above’.

Since Silver Mug fetches their ice from there periodically, they make sure that those kind of accidents are very unlikely to happen. Unluckily, I can’t say they are impossible.

There will always be that infinitesimal chance that things take an unexpected turn no one wished for.

— Extract from Silver Mug’s documentation about the Water Cave dungeon —

“…I’m glad we’ve read about those slimes. They’re pretty bad news, ain’t they?”
“They shouldn’t be underestimated, Rigel. If you tamed one, it would come in handy when you have equipment to discard, though…”
“Lia, have you had a bad experience with slimes?”
“I-I haven’t personally. Long time ago, I was in an expedition with other people to eliminate some slimes, when… no, this isn’t the right place and time to talk about that.”
“Tell us next time, then… goblins are coming again!”

Aileen was at ease in the dim light of the cave. Her senses were so sharp that even Lia, a prideful demi-human whose strong point was detecting enemies, was surprised.

The goblins dug holes high in the walls to hide and get ready to attack unaware passersby. Their surprise attacks consisted in jumping on their targets while swinging down their clubs or short swords, or throwing them rocks.
Once in front of them, they were crushed one-sidedly: Aileen made them fly with her punches, Rigel avoided them and counter-attacked, McKinley fired fire arrows in the holes where they hid, and those who tried to jump on him were cut down by a single, precise slash of Lia’s sword.
The goblins who charged at the adventurer’s party by feet met the same doom.

Zect saw some goblin mages chanting a spell a little far in front of them—their light wands illuminated the other goblins, casting their shadow around.
He couldn’t let that chance slip away.

Shadow Bind.

The next moment, his magic affected all of the enemy shadows, and the goblins started to struggle to free themselves.
They could move the upper part of their body, but not the lower one—it was like their feet were sewed to the ground, were their shadow was cast.

“Lia, don’t go for the torches! Charge them from the front!”
“Yes!”

Lia followed Aileen’s instructions, who was the only one grasping what Zect was doing, and cleared the path from the goblins that were popping out to defend the mages.
Their torches fell as they struggled to get free, but they were soon cut down.

Rigel picked up a torch, but Aileen extinguished its flame right away with a kick.

“Aww… Sis, why’d you kill the light like that?”
“’Cause it isn’t necessary. Your job… your magic messes with shadows, right, Zect?”
“Yes. I don’t think it was necessary for me to fight, but using magic shouldn’t have hindered your actions much, right?”
“Yeah, you’ve been very helpful. When goblins are about to die and get on a rampage, they might jump at their targets and hurt them.”
“Lia, I didn’t get what happened… what was it?”
“He cast a spell on the goblins’ shadows, binding them to the ground… right, Aileen?”
“Exactly. Grasping that in a battle means that you’re pretty good.”

Rigel let out an impressed sigh and McKinley puffed out his chest slightly. Lia gave a sidelong glance to them, then faced Zect.

“Would casting that same spell on the ice fox make her seizure easier?”
“I can easily cast it on goblins and those weaker than me, but casting it on something agile and smart like that is very hard.”

The demi-human shrugged her shoulders, understanding that it wouldn’t do.

It took him a lot of effort to bind something as strong as him, and that was the same for a single target stronger than him.
The ice fox was a SS rank monster, which was also very nimble and smart; a difficult target. The only member of their current party who would withstand that spell was Aileen, who steeled herself.
I can’t mess this up.

When they were about to enter the second layer, an icy wind blew past them carrying a lot of white cold particles that melted the moment they touched the party members’ skin.

“This is… snow…?”
“She stopped in the second layer…? Keep your guard up. Probably we’re about to…”
“No way… wasn’t it only one? What’s with that pack?!”

A very spacious room stretched in front of them, where numerous white four-legged beasts were slowly forming a huge pack.

Snow wolves… they were forming a circle around another creature, just like devotees worshipping their deity.

“That’s the ice fox… it’s commanding the wolves, isn’t she?”
“She became the dungeon boss, huh? I knew things could turn out this way… you three have to work hard too, then!”
“Yay! Sis, go for the ice fox! We’ll take care of the snow wolves!”
“If it gets too close to you, it’s gonna be hella tough… Lia, McKinley, I’m counting on you!”
“Okay. Be careful, you’re gonna suffer from frostbite if you get hit by her breath.”

Lia and Rigel unsheathed their swords and McKinley loaded a fire arrow on his arbalest.

“Three… Two… One… Go!”

Aileen sprinted onward followed by Zect, who cast his Shadow Bind on quite a lot of wolves and ended them all by throwing his slicer once. Meanwhile, those who jumped not to get trapped in his magic swooped down on Rigel and Lia as if they were swooping down on their prey.

“Damn, they’re quick! But…!”

With a flash, Rigel’s sword repelled a wolf as McKinley’s arrows hit their targets, setting some on fire, and Lia joined them by cutting down a couple of incoming beasts.

Once Aileen was sure that Rigel’s party had ingaged the wolves, she lept high in the sky, toward the ice fox’s silhouette that emerged from the darkness.

Zect noticed that she was jumping way too high… then understood that she wanted to reach the ceiling.

The ice fox followed Aileen with her eyes, which let out a silver light, then a blizzard lashed out in the room and dimmed everyone’s vision. Aileen tried to defend her body with the flaming magic that was within her, and after kicking the ceiling with all of her strength, causing it to crack from the impact, she swooped down on her target.

“Superia hand-to-hand style’s secret technique—Olympus-rending kick1!”

The momentum she built with her action equalled the strength and the speed of a lighting, and crashing where the ice fox stood until a few moments before, she fractured the ground, creating a huge, deep hole.

She created that blizzard only to dim my vision?!

Aileen had goosebumps and a shiver run up her back while seeing Zect’s slicer flying in the air and cutting through the blizzard’s strongest wind—only a metallic sound rang from the other side before it came back.

The ice fox concealed her presence in the blizzard and moved away in the blink of an eye—for a mere moment she was visible again, then she looked like dissolving into snow.

“As long as the blizzard is raging, we can’t count on our eyes to point where it is!”
“Yeah, I know it…!”

Zect already knew the ice fox, so he was probably already used to perceiving her presence like that, but even he couldn’t get close to it.

How can I seize it…?! There must be something I can do! Dick is counting on me…!

“B-Behind you! Get away!”
“Ugh!”

She jumped away just in time as a furious gust of wind, an Ice Breath that could’ve cast her into a pack of snow, lashed where she had been standing until now.

The attack aimed at her legs, the only part that granted a martial artist their mobility.

If the fight lasts too long and my body gets overcome by the cold, what happens to me…?

That feeling had never haunted her before, but now Aileen was getting afraid of dying, and that fear was setting ablaze her heart.

“…Would you come to rescue us…? I guess it would be hard, huh…?”

Zect readied his slicer again. The ice fox would have let Aileen see her again to make the girl attack, so if he attacked in that moment… if he used his best attack repeteadly as a Shadow Chaser, sooner or later he’d have hit her.

“You don’t have to attack! I told you to leave it to me, didn’t I?!”

The man stopped his hand, puzzled from her words. No matter how stronger than him Aileen was, if she was hit by one of the ice fox’s attacks, she’d have frozen and wouldn’t have avoided her next attack.

The strongest weren’t those with an unlimited supply of energy, but those who could fight without receiving much damage.

In the worst case scenario, the stronger would meet their doom no matter what. Even that was a potential outcome, but while Zect processed those thoughts, his movements stopped.

In front of him, Aileen’s red magic power wrapped her body like hellish flames as her peach-colored hair turned crimson and red light shone and scattered from her eyes.
That vision alone woke up a feeling that was slumbering in his heart since he was a child—fear.

As her flaming power swelled up and exploded from her, he understood that he should have kept his distance from her and stood still.

“…Are you… the Charming goddess of wrath… Aileen Superia?”

The ice stuck to her clothes evaporated, and she decided to take her heavy overcoat off, since she no longer needed it.

That girl had just too much power. He could see red lightnings running on and nearby her, which made chunks of snow evaporate at a single touch—it looked like snow wasn’t something allowed to be in her presence.

“Finally I can move freely. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

A soft smile cracked the face of her blood-curdling figure, and when he blinked his eyes, she had disappeared.

The ice fox cried loudly when it felt Aileen grabbing her tightly. With a gesture of her tail, the beast created and hurled countless ice blades to the demon, who needed no more than her free hand to shatter the attack.

Now only another SSS rank could have faced her up.
Still, the ice fox tried to resist—it struggled and let her vixen scream2 ring loudly; although it was a wild beast, it was now gumbling its life to protect its territory, the home she had chosen—but it was all for nothing.

With a single hit, Aileen’s bare hand smashed her collar.

“McKinleyyy!”
“Yes ma’aaam!”

As Rigel and Lia kept fending off snow wolves, McKinley loaded the paralysing dart on his arbalest and fired. The ice fox tried to struggle to free herself but her legs were stuck to the ground.

Zect had respected Aileen’s will and didn’t attack again, but he still used his spell Shadow Bind while the fox’s attention was robbed by that demon.

As the arrowhead stuck in the fox’s torso, the poison started to spread right away, and in a few moments the beast’s hostility vanished and she closed her eyes unmoving.

Aileen could have carried that small creature on her arms without breaking a sweat. She smiled bitterly while thinking that something that adorable could control a blizzard that powerful despite being on a rampage.

“I still have a long way to go… if I was afraid of a cute fox like this.”

Aileen had returned to her normal self—none of the others, except from Zect, had seen her demon-mode due to the blizzard.

“…No need to keep up my Shadow Bind, then.”

Zect said, and dispelling the fox, she lay on the ground. Then, her shape started to change into a human’s in front of Aileen’s eyes. The fox’s fur grew back into snow-white skin, and the girl couldn’t help but comparing the morphing body, which looked small and slim, to Yuma’s.

Then, Aileen darted away to take the overcoat she had took off before and returned the next moment to cover the body on the ground.

“I-It’s a little girl…?”3

“Does she look like a young boy to you?”

He nonchalantly took off his coat to add another layer of clothes to the girl while Aileen looked in puzzlement at the sleeping child.

When Rigel’s party reached them, they let out surprised voices as they watched the ice fox’s true body.
It didn’t take more than a few instants to accept the current situation.


1 The original actually says “heaven-tearing mountain-rending kick”, so I thought “maybe I can convey this with a single, cool word” and then I remembered about Mount Olympus, so… well, I used that
2 https://youtu.be/J6NuhlibHsM?t=61
3 Thing is that the fox’s gender is never specified by Zect. Since it’s never addressed directly, we could say he addresses her as “it”, but I thought that anyone would address a friend or a close person with their gender, so it would’ve been strange to let him address her with “they” all the time, given that as long as we know this fox is a girl. Tl;dr: I assumed her gender and I will change it if it’s necessary for plot. Sorry for “ruining” this cliché scene

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New Game – Chapter 36

The birdie’s tears – Part 4

Takumi and his comrades were now in front of the nobles’ seats, their heads bowed.
The most powerful people in the Holy Kingdom of Richtert—the overlords and the queen Eluria Richtert, symbol of her country, were just a few steps away.
She was wearing something simpler than usual, trying to balance comfort and looks since she knew that she was going to reach the arena at some point. The ceremonial sword tied to her hips reminded everyone of the official status of the match.

“It has been… a wonderful match, Suzuran’s members.”

After hearing her words, the three of them rose their heads.

“Lord Elvis extolled your brave fight, and I can do nothing but agree with him and approve of his choice. Today, we will also hold the ceremony to baptize you winners as knights.”

Takumi glanced at Elvis, who sat a few steps behind Eluria, but couldn’t read any concern on his face.

“I am deeply delighted by the words Her Majesty has addressed to my subordinates. Their victory was blessed by our Goddess Filia, thus they should aim to become our Queen—Filia’s closest entity’s—sword.”

“Eheheh… Hearing you mouthing wise words is hilarious…”

“…Your Highness, please, refrain from murmuring something in the middle of your talk.”

“Why, are you in a bad mood, Lux?”

“I am not. But whenever that slave merchant does the impossible, I receive a lot of exhortation, so my stomach is hurting a little.”

Lux, who sat behind her, managed to smile despite the twitching of his cheek.
Nearby him, an old man adjusted his glasses on his nose.

“Ohohh… It looks like you are going to rack your brain, Lord Lux. That man you have set your eyes on is earning a title, so should you not be happier?”

“…I am obliged for your observation, Lord Cramer. I envy how you avoid problems and hardly have to deal with any.”

“Ohohh… Dealing with problems and discord is the way of doing of the harmonious Administer. Whenever we find a lull sea, we never know what boils deep within it.”

Cramer Administer, the overlord who carried Richtert’s national politics on his shoulders as the prime minister and also controlled the cabinet ministers, replied to Lux’s cynicism while shaking his mustaches.
He was a crafty man who acted to maintain harmony and stability in his country.

“Forgive this old man for butting in your conversation, Your Highness. I am sorry.”

“Well, you better be. We are in the middle of a public speech.”

“Ohohh… I did not expect to be rebuked like this…”

“…Can any other unnecessary conversation stop now? None are worth these people’s time.”

Maybe afraid that their talk would last too long, Elvis cut it down with a sharp voice, and pushed the Queen, who looked at him with a wry smile, to go on and face Takumi again.

“Lord Lux will notify you with the details of the lands you will be put in charge of after your subordinates become knights. I also have a personal matter I want to discuss with you, slave merchant.”

As Eluria mouthed those words, she exchanged looks with Lise, who was still standing behind the throne—her usual sour look plastered on her face.
The child took a step toward Takumi while tightly pressing her lips together.

“…I cannot believe you really won.”

“I was hoping to hear ‘I believed in your victory’, though.”

Hearing him joking around, she squeezed her staff tighter along with her lips.

“I should not believe… that is why I gave up.”

After crushing her personal beliefs, the only thing that was left for her was to obey.
She gave up because she believed that she could’ve never won that fight.
It couldn’t be helped—that justification was what helped her bear her current life.

“Did you like the apple pie, Archbishop Lise Crest?”

“…Yes. It was so delicious it made me feel better.”

His simple question cleared her face from any shadow as she answered with a beaming cherubic smile.
Takumi nodded in satisfaction.

“I heard Her Highness’ words clearly. I will abide by Lord Lux’s details once I receive his notification.”

“Look forward to it. Now… we cannot let people wait any more. As a boring ceremony, Let us hold it right away.”

Saying so, Eluria stood up and unsheathed her sword, the symbol of the royal family—the blue of its blade was clearer than the sky’s and deeper than the sea’s—and lowered it on Kunon and Karin, as they both kept their heads bowed.

“In the name of Eluria Richtert, your queen, I hereby grant you the title of knight. By the power vested on you, I ask your loyalty to my country.”

The flat part of her sword touched their shoulders, and once the queen finished the ceremony, thus marking the official end of the match, Takumi’s comrades, silent until that moment, rose their heads again.
The audience bursted in excited cheers for the last time that day.


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Guild Master – Chapter 40

TL note: heartfelt thanks to Tentacle Daddy, who donated twenty euros for this series!


The Water Cave and the Shadow chaser’s negotiation

Rigel, Lia and McKinley departed to North with Aileen, who had been convinced by Dick. Their destination was the Water Cave.

The closer they got to it, the more the temperature dropped, and after an hour of travel by horse, the air started to chill steadily.
Still, they didn’t feel much of it, since rather than worrying about melting perennial ice in order to drink it, they had improved their resistance to cold.

Rigel’s team heard that the temperature from the second floor of the Water Cave was so low that water couldn’t be found in liquid form, so they prepared in advance and wore a thick coat over their equipment.

“Guys, dress warmly and try not to catch a cold.”
“Okay, Miss Aileen. I’m quite resistant when it comes to cold, though.”
“Is that so, Lia? By the way, did you hear about the tiger-race’s village from Dick?”
“Yes, I did. That is actually my birthplace. I own Sir Dick another favor now.”

Compared to the Lia that Dick met when he first helped Timis, the current one smiled much more often. She respected Aileen as a warrior, and whenever her party members looked at their interactions, it was like they were watching a teacher interacting with her pupil.

“Sis, we wanna see Bro’s good points too!”
“You’re never afraid to speak your mind, huh, Rigel… I told you to stop calling Miss Aileen ‘Sis’.”
“Hahaha… Maybe being Dick’s sister would’ve been better. If I was his only one, I feel like he’d have been sweeter with me.”

This wasn’t the first time that Aileen joined a Silver Mug’s team of adventurers.

When she was part of the expedition party, not every member in the team knew how to polish their strength, but Dick’s suggestions—summarized in ‘improving by acting alongside a stronger adventurer’—made the weaker members’ growth rate spike quickly.

Applying that method, in a few days of adventure they were now five times stronger than before, and getting stronger wasn’t an easy task for an adventurer.
Rigel’s team knew how valuable was Aileen’s presence in their party.

“If we get any closer to the Water Cave, it will be too cold for the horses. Should we tie them around here?”
“Yes, let’s cense them to keep beasts away. Guys, you wait here.”

Horses were terrified by the smell of tiger demi-humans, but Lia managed to build a relationship of mutual trust and understanding with hers, which she got while working with Timis.

Lia was a bit worried to leave them in the woods, but Dick had prepared a powerful ‘defensive smell’ that could null the horses’ entirely, making them unapproachable for beasts.

“Bro is amazing. He always has a lot of stuff, doesn’t he? If he makes this many things by himself, including that incense, when the heck does he sleep?”
“Dick’s good, but his friend Duke’s even better than him. He knows a lot of things and he even seized a fire dragon without breaking a sweat.”
“Speaking of Mister Duke, it’s said that recently he’s been seen in the Magic Academy. If I see him, I’ll ask him to be my teacher.”

Aileen burst into laughter seeing their expressions filled with devotion.

Dick was obsessed to never be the centre of attention, so he created this mysterious figure called Duke Solver. A part of Aileen wanted to tell them the truth, but she was extremely careful not to.

Those who understood Dick’s secrecy policy were protected by him… and Aileen actually wanted to make him dry and comb her hair at least once in two weeks, so her lips were sealed.

Thinking about him, the image of last night—where she had been seen naked by him—flashed through her mind, and she couldn’t help but blush furiously up to her ears.

“Wow Sis, are you hot? I’m all dressed up and still shaking like a leaf.”
“N-No, don’t worry. I’m just not used to wear this kind of clothes, but the Water Cave will help me chill, so it’s fi…”

Aileen’s voice trailed off. If they were to follow the road, they’d reach their destination, but she could hear someone fighting in the distance.

Metallic sounds, something zipping through the air and some men’s screams. It sounded like several people were fighting, so Rigel’s party fell silent and its members nodded to each other.

They hid their presence, took cover and got ready to act if something bad was to happen. Aileen preceded them but could only see the results of the battle.

In front of the Water Cave’s huge white entrance, there were a lot of armed adventurers sprawled on the ground. Only one was still standing among them—Aileen guessed that he had knocked all the others out alone.

The man wore a hard leather armor, had bluish black hair and gripped a throwing weapon in his hand: a ring-shaped blade with smaller blades stuck on it—a slicer.

And yet, the adventurers on the ground didn’t show injuries on their body. That was proof of his overwhelming power, which showed by defeating them without even breaking a sweat.

“…Are you Zect? You came to greet our guild, right?”
“You mean Silver Mug or some other guild…? Seems like your ears don’t work. None of theirs did too.”

He was visibily annoyed, but he didn’t raise his voice. Aileen thought that maybe fighting him would have been better than arguing with him.

The only thing that was holding her back were Dick’s words: don’t fight him. But facing a foe that strong after so long made her clench her fists.

“That’s the face of someone fond of battles. I heard that the spirit tribe has that proclivity, but does that come without exeptions?”
“Nah, there are plenty of people who don’t care about fighting. I’m just particular. Are you going to enter the Water Cave? We have business in there too.”
“…This has nothing to do with you. If you don’t want to end up like these guys, don’t do anything unnecessary.”
“I’d like to say I won’t, but let me ask this first—what will you do when you find the ice fox?”

Zect, who had started walking toward the entrance, stopped and faced her.
The grip on his weapon tightened and she felt a vivid malice coming from him—the ice fox might have faced its doom.

“That’s bad. Garamdoor asked to bring it back alive, remember?”
“…Mind your own damn business. This is the only way I thought of to bring her back to her true form.”

Now, this is my chance!

Aileen told him everything she knew.
The ideal outcome was that Zect would tell her the connection between him and the ice fox before they ventured in the deepest layers of the Water Cave.

Given what he had just said, he knew that the ice fox was a demi-human forced in its beast form, so they probably knew each other.

She understood that he wanted to help the beast, but beating her was the only way he thought of to force the ice fox’s reversion.

I wish I could leave this brain-racking thing to Dick… I’d be happy if I could just earn my weekly rewards…

What would Dick think about that? As she racked her brain over it, her next words became hope for Zect.

“I know a way to make her shape-shift back to her demi-human form. If you let me, I can save that ice fox.”
“…Where did you find it? Did you research it in this short time…?”
“Yeah. I’ll fight her face-on and remove her collar. If you can do that, I’ll let you do it in my place and just watch from a distance, but if you still believe that beating her is the best option, I’ll surely get in your way.”

Aileen didn’t hide her killing intent. If Zect was really strong as he was supposed to be, he would’ve surely felt the difference between their level.
The next moment, thinking that he might have attacked her suddenly, she took the fundamental position of Superia’s hand-to-hand fighting style, with both her right hand and leg ahead of her.

Then, Zect imbued the slicer he was holding with power, and the blades on it moved back to their original position. The next moment, the ring circled around his waist and returned to be his belt.

“…A collar, huh? Can I believe you? If that’s the reason of her madness…”

Aileen felt relieved seeing that he didn’t know why the ice fox had lost her reason, so she kept talking.

“I don’t know if taking off her collar will make her revert to her human form, but I’m sure that is what forced her to shape-shift. My guild knows how to do its job, and I trust their research. I can’t assure they’re right, though.”
“…Thinking about it, I’m sure I saw a collar. I can’t believe that company is using magic tools for this… I believed that maybe using force was the only way to help her… how stupid of me.”

Along with his self-deprecating words, his will to fight Aileen faded.

Their competition had become a collaboration, and if there was no need to fight Zect, the only thing still left to do was to coming up with a plan to seize the ice fox.

“We don’t need to fight the ice fox. I bet you had it tough since you didn’t want too… Not like I know your story, though.”
“If possible, I don’t want to kill her. I thought that if she started to live here, some adventurer would’ve defeated her one day, so I would rather do it myself… damn, I was so off the mark about it.”
“Nah, not everyone come up with the right solution instantly, but the important thing is reaching it eventually.”

While Aileen was speaking, Rigel and the others came out from their cover. Zect looked at them and seemed to estimate their strength.

“I don’t have the right to tell you this, but don’t get noticed by the ice fox before we face her. She is too much for you guys in her current form.”
“Ouch, is that so…? Sis, is there something we can do other than that?”
“You can take care of the other monsters on our way. I’ll try to take the ice fox alive.”
“Roger that… we won’t join the battle against the fox.”
“Miss Aileen, I have a sleeping and a paralysing dart with me. Can I help you…?”
“Thanks, McKinley, that’d be great. Go for the paralysing one, but beware not to aim at her eyes.”
“I’d aim at an easier part of her body, like her torso. If I gulp the drink I got in the shop yesterday, my fingers won’t become too cold to bend.”

When Rigel’s party showed up in the bar last night, they found all the things they needed already prepared. Along with some milk, each of them also had some special liquor.

The one for McKinley was some dwarf fire beer, which he kept in a little bottle. He had to drink it before entering the Water Cave.

“Drinking before entering a dungeon…? What a strange guild.”
“As long as you don’t end up dead drunk, alcohol is good for your body. By the way, our Master invites you to drop by again and take a drink with us.”
“…I doubt I will. But if I can, I’d like to apologize for my impoliteness.”

Dick wished for Zect to join his guild, and Aileen noticed that maybe his hopes weren’t going to waste.

If Zect, whose strength could be perfectly used and improved by Dick, really were to join the guild, Silver Mug’s Guild Master would’ve had a lot less burdens on his shoulders.
Zect would’ve been an expensive mercenary, but Dick usually had so much work on his hands that Aileen ended up worrying about him.

She respected him, who didn’t feel burdens as burdens… and actually, she wanted him to take care of her hair every day. Thinking about it, once a week or two wasn’t enough in the slightest.

Aileen knew she was being too greedy, and yet, Dick seriously took on her proposal anyway, despite knowing of it.

“Okay, let’s enter the Water Cave. Are you guys ready?”
“Yes!”

Rigel’s party answered in unison while Zect kept silent.
The five of them entered the chilling cave and made their way in there by mowing down the swarms of frozen goblins1 that kept charging at them.


1 the original obliges us to read it that way (フローズンゴブリン = furoozun goburin = frozen goblin). The goblins aren’t actually frozen, that’s just how they’re called

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New Game – Chapter 35

The birdie’s tears – Part 3

The next moment, another roar burst in the arena.

This time not only the slums’ people were cheering, but also those who were ever-so-slightly interested in Suzuran. The slums’ company fought bravely and achieved the impossible, that’s why even those who couldn’t follow the current situation were excited.
On the other hand, the nobles were awfully silent. None of them dared to mouth a word. But that was obvious, since Suzuran’s victory hid a deep meaning: magic could lose.

It was the trumph card that led them to victory in the great war between humans and demi-humans that ravaged a few centuries before, and it also became the cornerstone of their firmness in time.
Even thirty years before, during the ex-empire’s war, Richtert’s magic was crowned as the strongest weapon. That was why the privileged classes like nobles had an unshakable firmness.

Still, that firmness crumbled the moment that Suzuran won.
Magic could be faced even by mere demi-humans who couldn’t use any, so even the strongest weapon known thus far had a flaw, a weak point.

“C’mon… it’s better if you act now, you know?”

Takumi’s whisper melted in the bedlam’s roars as he watched the audience’s reactions.

A ‘magic killer’ wasn’t someone who could neutralize magic, but someone who could plunge its authority into the abyss.
From that very moment, what was believed to be ‘absolute power’ wasn’t ‘absolute’ anymore, and if it was to be neglected, Richtert—that embodied the core of magic—would have sank.
Now that those two magic knights were defeated by Kunon and Karin, the authority, peace and order built thanks to that very power was likely to get threatened.

That’s the reason why in such a situation, that person would have surely showed himself.

“…What a wonderful show, Suzuran’s members!”

A clear voice cut through the boiling excitement and echoed in the arena, slowly quietening the audience while its owner—Kiad Fortesea—walked to the center of the stage.

“Let me express my respect for your feat! As a magic knight myself, who is also part of the gallant Fortesea family, I want to challenge you!”

His declaration was followed by glaring at Takumi while a murderous intent seeped from his wicked smile.

“Takumi, slave merchant of Suzuran! You, who taught those demi-humans how to counteract magic, are praiseworthy! Accept my challenge and show me your true abilities!”

The merchant silently watched him while the audience started to stir.
Kiad had spied Suzuran through Lise, so he knew that Takumi didn’t have any magic power and that he was punier than a demi-human.
He was the weakest human ever seen.
If someone like him was to fight against a magic knight in a one-on-one battle, he would have died for sure.

Still, Kiad phrased his declaration in a way that people would perceive as ‘you, who are strong enough to teach those demi-humans how to counteract magic’, so if Takumi was to flee from his challenge, people would have understood that even the strongest wouldn’t beat Fortesea’s magic, thus the value of magic itself wouldn’t have swayed.

One thing was clear: if the merchant was to accept that challenge, the noble would have toyed with him until his death.
Any of those choices lead to the very same conclusion—magic’s value would be the same as before, and Takumi’s plan would have went up in smoke.

In that case, the best choice for him was to decline the challenge and save his own life.

“Allow me to gladly accept your challenge, then.”

Takumi’s quiet reply reached everyone’s ears.

“But let’s put up a great show!”

He then spread his arms wide while the audience, faces mixed with perplexity and excitement, stared at him.

“Knights who lose against demi-humans and former slaves don’t deserve their title, so if I win, I want my subordinates to earn it! And if I lose… I offer you my head as token of my impoliteness so far.”

As the audience burst again in thunderous roars of excitement and bewilderment, Kiad’s face was puzzled.

“…Did you come here to waste your life?”

“What a nice way to say that I’ll lose.”

Takumi folded his arms on his chest while his smile shone with confidence.

“You must have forgotten what I said.”

“As if I could ever remember the words of an inferior nobody like you. You lost the moment you accepted my challenge. I let you gather information from Lize to let you come here… I won’t lose.”

Takumi tapped his finger on his temple.

“Let me tell you something that I’m not even trying to hide. I don’t have any magic power, so both magic and magic tools are useless for me… Without that, I’m the weakest man in the world.”

Magic was what brought people a step above the rest. Thanks to it, they could face demi-humans’ absurd abilities, but Takumi didn’t have any inside of him… and exactly for that reason, he could kill magic.

“I proved that demi-humans can win against magic depending on the situation. What will happen when a weak human who can’t even use magic like me wins against you?”

“Hahaha! Do you really think you can beat me?! The worst, weakest man in the country beating Fortesea, the strongest magicians?!”

“That’s what your knights thought too. Have you seen how they ended up, though? I guess you still haven’t noticed it.”

Takumi’s smile was brimming with self-confidence. Losing was inconceivable for him.

“My goal was to bring a certain someone out on stage from the start.”

No matter the gap between their power, his behavior was the same.

“Destroying the law formulas, attacking magic knights without them noticing, finding the flaws in your magic tools… I came up with all of this, so do you really think that my chances of winning are zero?”

He bent over a little to look at Kiad from below.

“I accepted your challenge because I will surely win. Even thought I’m way weaker than a demi-human and can’t even use magic, I will end your life. Then, I will become the magic killer.”

The next moment, the noble started to hear some comments from the audience.

“C-Can he really win against Lord Kiad…?”

“He offered his head as a token for losing… He must have some tricks up his sleeve.”

“Well, he did teach the demi-humans how to defy magic, didn’t he? Probably he knows how to nullify other kind of magic…”

“So he’s really convinced to win this challenge…?”

Those doubts spread in the audience like an illness and soon infected the nobles and the magic knights who were tutored by Fortesea. A whirlpool of insecurity traveled in the air and descended on Kiad, who started to conceive the chance of losing.

Although he could see many worried faces, he tried to rationalize what was going on.
The man in front of him couldn’t use magic—he was the weakest, worst human existing. On the other hand, Kiad was a member of the Fortesea, the family with strongest magicians in the country, and as a powerful magic knight himself, he couldn’t affort to taint his family’s name.
Still…

“…What’s up, strongest magic knight? You look afraid.”

He stood frozen in place while pondering as the slave merchant peered at him.
Although he was abysmally stronger than his foe, he still had to put up a facade… but soon Kiad smiled wryly.

“No matter the foe… Fortesea has defeat everyone so far.”

He then erupted in a crazy laugh and unsheathed the short sword he had tied to his hip.

“Do whatever you want! I’ll crush you with my gallantry!”

Almost screaming, Kiad raised his short sword over Takumi, who, for the first time, let his expression crumble and rose his eyebrows.
The next moment, after the sword started to swoop down on his target, Kiad was hurled away as if punched by an invisible, powerful hand.

“Gh… Gwah…!”

His anguish leaked from his lips in formless words while the sound of his bones cracking and snapping within his body reached his ears.
While Takumi glared at him from a distance, tick—a high-pitched sound echoed in the arena.

“…I will not allow you to speak my family’s name while showing that shameful behavior.”

The voice of a middle-aged man grew closer and heavier with every word.
His expression was as hard and cold as steel and furrows wrinkled his face while his presence overwhelmed the audience—his cane stabbed the ground as he approached the two man in the arena.

“Although you do not deserve to be part of Fortesea, we are still blood-related. I tolerated this unsightly show so far, but if this continues… I, Elvis Fortesea, will purge you.”

The end of his sentence was marked by the ticking of his cane.
Kiad’s expression twisted as he tried to squeeze out a reply to the voice of the man who led magic to its current authority thirty years ago.

“Why…? I was going to show to everyone our gallantry—”

“What can an idiot like you show to others? That slave merchant proved that magic has flaws, which was very significant to witness.”

Elvis, his gaze sharp like an ice knife, turned to face Takumi and asked in a glacial tone.

“Did you come up with a way to make that elf and that wolf-girl deal with magic?”

“…Yes. After many researches, I created an approach that could counteract the possible manifestation of magic.”

“Truly wonderful. You are a keen observer.”

“Thank you. I’m honored to be praised by the man who twisted this country.”

Takumi stared at Elvis’ eyes that, after a few instants, were cast down.

“This time, you won this match. Now let me end this show.”

“Please, wait, Father! If we step aside without fighting, our name will—”

When Kiad tried to protest, the man stabbed the ground again with his cane.

“When did I say that an idiot who lost without even battling could mouth his thoughts? What makes you this stupid, Kiad, is that you cannot even tell when you have lost.”

His cane kept tormenting the soil annoyingly.

“Father, are you saying… that I have lost?!”

“What meaning do defeat or victory have now? Currently I cannot say who has won.”

That was precisely one of Takumi’s goals, as it was the ladder to the outcome he wanted.

“That slave merchant used mysterious actions to win against you. He has used your words, the audience, and this entire situation.”

He glanced at Takumi, whose lips were sealed.

“His skills are clear since he could teach two demi-humans how to counteract magic. He might actually know a way to nullify it like his companions did, although he cannot use magic-related items.”

Elvis emphasized that precise word.

“Given that he accepted the gallant Fortesea’s challenge, he might know how to win against us. If we think about it, he might be stronger than his demi-humans, since he taught them how to deal with magic, and even offering his head might be a way to thoroughly reach his goal… ”

Elvis marked each of the points of his analysis by ticking his cane and Kiad was petrified in front of his barrage of explanations.

Takumi’s words and attitude brought him not to think about victory, but to another potential outcome that wasn’t clear yet.
Even if he was to lose at least once in a million matches, it would still prove that magic wasn’t an absolute power—it would have been reduced to something beatable even by someone who hadn’t a teensy bit of magic in itself.
Fortesea was stabbed by that possibility.

The slave merchant used his words, behavior, the audience, and even the way of thinking of his foe to instill into him one doubt: Takumi might win.
But that blade-like weapon wasn’t aimed to Kiad Fortesea.

“This slave merchant’s goal was to bring me out here and stop this match. Because there was no other way to smash that hypothetical outcome.”

For Elvis, Takumi wouldn’t have earned anything from winning, but Kiad’s defeat was a risk that would have caused devastating consequences to magic’s image.
Still, interrupting the match prevented the risk from materializing.
That was Takumi’s way to survive the current situation.

“Yeah… maybe I’ve planned this.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders at Elvis’s glare.

“Feel free to stop this match, but remember that I’ve put my life at stake. If I lose, it would be very bad.”

“I have said this victory is yours. And despite you only asked it verbally, I should bestow the title of knight on your demi-humans.”

“Father! Do you really want to bestow such a honourable title on some inferior beings?!”

“Of course. Those inferior beings has won against two weaklings who should not be in the ranks of my magic knights, thus I will strip them of their title. Also… I will forgive one error, but I have no sympathy for those who pile them up.”

After slicing his son with those sharp words, he slapped his cane, and Kiad opened his eyes wide before losing his consciousness.
Then, leaving him there, Elvis faced the audience.

“The match has ended. Applaud loudly Suzuran’s members as they won against my knights.”

Although Elvis’ appearance cast a veil of bewilderment on everyone, the arena that had been silent up to that moment was once again shook by the commotion.
Takumi looked at the nobles as they kept their silence.

“Lord Elvis, is magic this important?”

“Obviously. You know that this country needs an absolute power, do you not?”

Richtert was labeled as a little country in the continent of Veril.
The raids coming from Denmerg, in the north, had pushed Richtert’s territory away; the monsters’ dens of the Bestia virgin forest in the west were growing; the sea enclosed the Kingdom from the south.
To survive in that bloody cage, Richtert confined itself and developed an absolute, peerless power—magic.
Thanks to its usage in the war of thirty years before, Denmerg’s raids’ frequency dropped sharply and no more wars had flared up.
That sort of peace was won only thanks to Richtert’s magic, so once that power had lost, the entire country would once again plunge into chaos.

“What you are doing is no different from destroying this country.”

“But is it fine for you to destroy other people from behind the scenes?”

Elvis didn’t reply to the man who tried to cover his reasons and ideals with arrogance, and looking like he had lost interest, he turned on his heels.

“Let me sincerely praise you for what you did today. You did great, but if this is your ability, I can relax.”

“Is that so? If you say that… you’ve probably seen your limit.”

With an arrogant smile, Takumi pointed his gun at Elvis’ back… then lowered his hand.

“Look down on everyone and one day you will get destroyed.”

“The strong’s duty is that of crushing everyone who goes against it.”

Without looking back, Elvis merely walked back to the nobles’ seats while Takumi watched his back grow distant in silence.


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Guild Master – Chapter 39

TL Note: I don’t know how I didn’t notice this before… Rigel actually addresses Dick as “(big) bro”, not “mister”. It isn’t relevant for this chapter, but it will be for the next one. I apologize for this huge slip-up.
Oh, in the note before the image I explain the difference between web novel and light novel in that scene. It changes a bit, that’s why the image is different from what’s described in here.


The demon girl living alone and the beast’s collar

The Water Cave had three floors.
There was a lake in the third one, where a special race of water spirits called ‘ice nymphs’ lived.

The lake was frozen due to the spirits’ power and highly transparent lumps of ice called ‘perennial ice’ could be extracted from it. The power of the spirits was so strong that the ice kept its cold temperature even outside, so it could be brought home.
During the Lord of Fire Spirit’s non-stop activity on the eighth month, the ice nymphs were weaker, so their power couldn’t keep the ice frozen outside, but any amount could be preserved if well covered by straw.

If the ice fox fled into that cavern, my shop would stop receiving that wonderful ice… But that was just a trivial problem. What was bothering me was the root of this entire problem, which was way deeper and big than expected.

I knew that humans and demi-humans weren’t in good terms, given what I had seen when I saved Riko, but since the current accident was affecting the capital too and no one was acting to fix the matter, I couldn’t let it be anymore.

“…A confrontation between species?”
“Master, there is no need for you to feel responsible about it. This problem is as old as the history of this kingdom, so it is not something we can just solve overnight. Nothing has changed in all this time, after all.”

Verlaine answered the thought that slipped through my lips while pouring me a cup of strong tea, then, after placing it in front of me, she sat on the other side of my office’s desk, over which was spread the Water Cave’s map. Sitting on my chair, eyes fixed on the paper, I was trying to figure out how to make Rigel’s party move.

She was still wearing her maid uniform without her headdress and her white skin had now returned to its natural dark color. I wanted to thank her for the help as I looked at her listless figure after work, but if I was too concerned about it, she’d scold me like she had done in the past, so I kept it to myself. Thinking about it, why did I want my guild members to hold back that much?

“That map is very well made. Did you draw it, Master?”
“When I first brought perennial ice home, I went into the Water Cave myself. It’s not that dangerous, and when a monster appears, a B rank adventurer can handle it.”
“How strong do you think that ice fox is?”
“…I’d say they match a B rank adventurer, but I’m not that sure…”

That beast could be a bit too much for Rigel’s party. I had to ask Aileen for help and make her act for the next day.

“Zect… if that guy from Blue Sagittarius is involved, the ice fox might actually match an SS rank adventurer… or maybe a S rank one. Right, Master?”
“That’s possible. I have to ask someone who can make sure both the ice fox and Zect are gonna be fine…”
“Grrr… the demon girl, huh? I was thinking about the light blade hero, but if the opponent is some beast, Aileen is probably a better choice. The fierceness of her attacks is always astonishing.”
“Yeah, you’re right. You’re starting to get how I think, Verlaine.”
“I always think about some plan whenever I look at you, so I keep my mind at work… but something praiseworthy has yet to cross my mind.”

She brought her own tea cup to her lips and crossed her legs.
Was she planning to do something to me…? She was a beast during the night and a fool with her head filled with absurdity during the day, so I couldn’t tell…

“The demon girl might misunderstand why you dropped by this late at night, but she has an iron will.”
“She’s bad news when she’s half asleep… but I can wake her up with magic.”

I was frightened by what was waiting for me at Aileen’s, but I had to do it to help Rigel, so I headed to my doom.

◆◇◆

Aileen didn’t want any house in particular and her income allowed her to live wherever she wanted without effort, so she ended up renting the best apartment in the 12th Street, which was constructed for the ‘12th Street’s Bests’ and wasn’t that far from my guild.

The 12th Street Bests were a family of shopkeepers who offered some fun to tired women and men for brief periods of time and also managed some information. Even so, Aileen never felt anxious or troubled whenever she bumped into one of them. That was one of her best sides.

Her apartment complex was constructed so that the many apartments on the second floor—the last of which had ‘Superia’ written on its doorplate—were connected by a common space.
Aileen didn’t want to write her name on it because she was afraid that people, recognizing her as one of the members of the expedition party, were going to sightsee the place like it was a tourist attraction and breach her private spaces repeatedly.
In the neighbourhood, she was known as Aily, and thanks to that she managed to keep her real identity a secret.

If I rang her doorbell, I’d bother the closest neighbours, so I knocked at her door with a specific sequence: two, one, three. That was my signal.
I really had a bad habit when it came to codes if I used one even there…

A few moments passed without an answer, and when I was about to repeat the code, the door opened.

“Come in~!”
“Thank you. Sorry for coming this late, but I have a favor to aAHH!”

Behind the door was standing a woman—Aileen, her gorgeous figure wrapped in a towel while a good smell of soap wafted all around her.

“Don’t worry, I knew it was you. Otherwise I wouldn’t have opened the door like this.”
“W-Well, it should be a problem even if it’s me. You could’ve taken your sweet time—”
“So, what do you want to ask me? Something urgent?”

I was breathless in front of her stunning appearance: her long hair usually tied up were now hanging down her shoulders, dangling in front of her flushed, healthy skin—she didn’t seem to notice it, though.

Was a friendship between a man and a woman something like that? Did it mean that she didn’t see me as a person of the opposite gender? That was fine, since people tended to lose sight of the important things around them when they wanted too much, but a huge conflict was raging inside me anyway.

“Don’t stand there, come in and wait a minute. I have to dry my hair… right, can you do it with your magic?”
“S-Sure… I don’t mind. But before that, can you put something on…?”
“If I dress up while I’m this hot, I’ll just end up being sweaty all over again. I don’t wanna take another bath, you know?”

Still, the towel wrapping her body wasn’t that thick and it was somewhat short on the lower part of her body. If I had to see her from behind, I felt like I could…

“C’mon, dry my hair from behind. It makes me feel sooo good when you do it~! I bet anyone would want someone like you in their house!”

Turning on her heels, she started to walk deeper into the house. As I looked at the lowest edge of her towel, the question “is that her butt or her thighs?!” flashed through my mind, but frowning in front of reality, I calmed down. It was obviously the latter.

◆◇◆

I infused a comb with some Recovery Magic and combed her hair to repair it. Then, I dried all the water in excess from it, leaving behind only the moisture her hair needed.

I remembered that five years before, when we were on our expedition to defeat Verlaine, Aileen’s pink hair, colored like a peach’s flower, was heavily damaged due to the harsh environment she’d lived in. Still, after I combed her hair, she could run her fingers through it smoothly and that same scene repeat this time too.

“Okay, this should be fine. What’s up, Aileen?”
“Nothing, you did a great job. How come that you didn’t comb my hair for so long but you seem still used to it? Do you perhaps comb Verlaine’s every day or…?”
“No, she’s never asked me to. I just comb myself.”
“I see… It’s been a while, isn’t it? You really are good with your hands.”
“Thank you, but I won’t do it often. Let’s keep it around once a month.”
“Okaaay! Hahaha, I look like a little girl again! When I was young, my mom combed my hair for me.”

I remembered that when I was little, I used to take care of my two big sisters. My parents were never home, so those two girls were the closest I could have for a parent.

Sometimes I wondered how my family was doing, but I never felt like going back to them. They were a bunch of people who liked to stand in the limelight and they thought of our home as their base. I often ended up wondering if I missed home… but thinking about it, both I and my family probably had a lot on our plate right now.

“That’s a shame, though… so if we were to live together, you wouldn’t comb me every day… I didn’t expect Verlaine to hold back that much.”
“I can tell from your eyes that you’d like to make me comb your hair… and well, it’d be fine as long as it won’t be a daily duty. By the way, Aileen, I know you just finished your last job, but I need your help urgently.”
“Mh, sure. Urgently as in within tomorrow?”
“Yes. Rigel’s team accepted a quest that was accepted by another guild too, and one of the other guild members is a SS rank adventurer named Zect. Could you make sure that those two parties won’t clash against each other?”

I showed her the quest’s information document and she nodded every now and then while scanning it.

“I think I got it. So this isn’t about kicking some ice fox’s ass but about capturing it alive, right? Do you think this Zect guy will attack us if he finds us before its target?”
“Yes, that’s possible… but we’ll probably be fine if we avoid him. If we can get the ice fox before him, we’re probably gonna be okay.”

I told her this ice fox could actually be a shape-shifted demi-human from the ice fox tribe and that Zect could be connected in some way.

“…Selling shape-shifted demi-humans as rare animals? Dick, why don’t we just destroy those Garamdoor bastards? We can’t let them do stuff like this.”
“I asked Sakuya to investigate their headquarter. She should come back soon.”
“Oh, that’s fine, then. As a demi-human herself, she’s probably gonna blast the hell out of them all.”
“I can’t say she won’t, but I’m sure she understands that we can punish them whenever we want, so it would be better to keep a low profile for now.”
“Well, I have no complaints as long as we’re gonna punish them. I want them to pay, no matter the consequences.”

She clenched her fist tight as I wondered if she was still hot from the bath. She’d been wrapped in her towel from a while, right now.

“Aileen, what about you get some clothes…?”
“Right, sorry. I’ll go change right away…”

Still, no matter who you are—even an invincible martial artist like Aileen can’t escape fate…
That thought flashed through my mind while, after she got up, her towel gave in to gravity and fell to the ground in front of me.

Aileen gasped, her voice stuck in her throat. My mind went blank, my muscles forgot to move, and so my voice to sound, as the tempered graceful body of Aileen was reflected in my eyes.

Yeah, probably the best part of those curves was her bosom. I heard that tempering one’s body resulted in a reduction of the chest, but it looked like that rule didn’t apply on someone who’s still growing. I never minded being close yet distant to her like a friend could be, but there I was changing my mind in a mere instant.

The next moment, Aileen tried to hide the most of her body as she could, leaving her chest to her hair that was partially covering it—her face flushing red from embarrassment. Leering at her didn’t help either.

“…Dick…”

That familiar name she had pronounced so often now sounded… off.
Showing up this late in the night and being invited to enter her house while a thin towel was the only layer that covered her body—it didn’t make me feel in turmoil… who knows why I was actually calm.

Aileen probably thought the same.
If I spoke now, it would have been decided—the end.
While thoughts zapped through my brain like bullets and my indecisiveness was taking the better of me, I…1

“Master, am I interrupting something?”
“HOLY SHHHOO-Oh, S-Sakuya? When did you…?”
“You didn’t answer, so I felt that something was strange and unlock the door. Verlaine told me you were here.”
“Y-You’re not interrupting anything… Actually, we were waiting for you, Sakuya.”
“…Perhaps naked, Miss Aileen?”
“W-Well, I mean…! Y-You know, my knots aren’t that tight…! S-Sorryyy!”

Aileen stormed out of the room, leaving the towel on the floor. Her back was so—no. I had to pretend I’d never seen anything. For the sake of world peace…!

“…This was quite the unexpected scene, maybe a little disturbing too… I will just try to digest this as a bad dream.”
“T-Thank you… you’d save me… By the way, could you…”
“Yes, I’ll tell you everything once we return to our guild. But before that…”

She extracted something similar to a belt from her overcoat. Magic runes were carved on its leather, which was also decorated with magic stones and gems.

That was something a human would never wear… it was a collar for beasts.

“…That magic tool was used to block the process of shape-shifting of demi-humans, blocking them in their animal form… am I right, Sakuya?”
“Yes. Luckily, I found one in Garamdoor’s basement.”
“Great job. Have you already examined it?”

Her long ears drooped and her eyes darkened at my question. That showed how cruel were the collar’s effects.

“This thing robs demi-humans of their reason and awakens the beast within them. It’s basically a magic tool that enslaves the wearer.”

The ice fox fled from Garamdoor surely had their shape-shifting ability blocked, but it wasn’t enslaved at all—their instinct commanded them to flee.

According to Sakuya’s words, almost every rare animal sold by Garamdoor was actually a demi-human trapped into their beast form.

Now, all that was left to know was the connection between Zect and this ice fox. No matter how, they were surely connected in some way.
Once the collar was removed, the ice fox could return to their demi-human form, and regaining their reason, they were able to speak again. In that case, they could personally tell us what was their connection with Zect.

“Thank you, Sakuya. Now we only need to go all the way.”
“You mean that we’re gonna make Garamdoor pay for enslaving demi-humans?”
“You will receive your reward right away, but what we received from this job will be way bigger than that. They’re gonna regret asking us for help… this will be a lesson for them.”

Sakuya’s tense expression loosened into a smile.

“You keep denying it, but you really deserved to be a member of the expedition party, Master.”
“I just move according to the situation. I don’t deserve that much praise.”
“Well, this is what I think. I really hope to stay by your side for a long time.”

She was very happy to know that we were acting to save demi-humans.

I didn’t know much about her past. The only things I knew about her were that she was the only ravirim still alive, as her race had been destroyed, and that she despised humans.

That was all the more reason to stop this everlasting dispute between humans and demi-humans… this was our chance to help this reconciliation from the shadows.


1 Long story short: in the light novel Aileen is more aggressive. She takes his hand and pulls it towards her body pretty much saying that she wouldn’t mind if it was Dick ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) then Sakuya interrupts. Guess the LN has more fanservice around.

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3+

New Game – Chapter 34

The birdie’s tears – Part 2

The arena fell into silence while Boris collapsed on the ground, foam streaming down his lips.
A magic knight has been defeated by a demi-human.
That unacceptable truth became reality in front of everyone.
Still, the end of the first fight was fluted and time—which seemed frozen until then—started to flow again while screams of joy and bewilderment filled the air.
Karin let out a bored sigh.

“…I bet the louder ones are the slums’ guys, huh…? Should they not be at work right now? Why are they even here for?”

“This can’t be happening… A mere werebeast can’t defeat Boris…!”

“Oh, was that guy strong? Kunon squashed him in a minute.”

Castells, who didn’t even consider that outcome possible, started to rub his head, disheveling his own hair while muttering ‘this can’t be’.

“So, what will you do? If you drop out now, I will gladly spare you.”

“D-Don’t mess with me! Prideful magic knights will never flee from mere demi-humans!”

“I see. That was a suggestion, but the choice is up to you. Now that your friend has been taken out of the arena, shall we have some fun too?”

Her black hair fluttered as she got on her feet, leaving behind her the wooden box she was using as a chair.
Castells, probably finding his composure again, let out another eerie laughter.

“Hihihi…! Having some fun? Are you talking about what awaits you after your defeat?”

“…Reeeally, people always imply that. Cannot elves be something else other than prostitutes or sex slaves? Cannot you at least consider it, you smarty-pants?”

“Only a loser would consider that. Also, didn’t you choose to live like that yourselves? Hihihi! I’m interested in your body, but not in that kind of way.”

He leered at her while licking his lips.

“I still… haven’t killed any elf. Your ilk is very precious, so I only found the likes of you as playthings and never as foes… I’m looking forward to it.”

“Thanks for letting me know. Male nobles are stupid and disgusting, and so are their terrible tastes. I would gladly kick them to death.”

“Hihihi… Even if you had some notions in magic, you’d still be a toy in front of Richtert’s almighty magic. My Shadow Thorn will—wait, what are you doing?”

“Why are you even asking? The match is starting soon, so I am readying my weapon.”

She was probably already fed up with his bragging. She opened the wooden box, removed the cloth within it and took out its contents with some effort.
Along with her grumbling, the sound of something terribly heavy shook everyone’s eardrums, and when that thing was finally visible, the audience stirred again.
It was an incredibly huge bow, even bigger than Karin. If its bowstring was to come off and it returned straight, it would have looked more like a sturdy, complex bou.1

“Aaah… this is a pain to handle. But at least it is not mine, so I will just pull through for today.”

Karin took a quiver out of the wooden box and wore it on her back, then she dragged out of it what resembled a blunt weapon rather than a simple arrow and faced her opponent.

“Okay, I am ready. Shall we start?”

“…I have a silly question. Do you really want to fight with that?”

“Well, I am an elf. Now it will be clearer for everyone.”

“Hihihi! Yes, totally better! A powerless elf wouldn’t even be able to draw that b—”

“Actually, elves can use any kind of tool.”

She nocked the arrow while speaking, then whirled her body and crashed the bow on a nearby boulder which, after being damaged by the impact, allowed her to stabilize her aim before shooting in the air.

“If I use this like a crossbow, even the most powerless of elves can manage to face an opponent.”

“…I see. Still, you only have three arrows.”

“Well, I cannot bring many. They are heavy.”

As she shrugged her shoulders, the arrows in her quiver rattled, and Castells laughed eerily.

“You have no chance to win against me, girl. Let me defeat you in your game.”

The flute played loudly the moment he ended his sentence.

Castells’ shadow crawled onward while foaming. It splashed like water as its shape changed into several dark needle’s.

“You see, my ability, Shadow Thorn, makes me produce any kind of object from my shadow. As long as I’m here, I can fire endless arrows.”

He stifled his laughter while its shadow spread around him boiling.

“Do you really think you can win against me with only three of them?”

Several dozens black bubbles were popping, revealing arrow-shaped shadows ready to fly against her, who sighed lightly.

“This battle will end soon, so I won’t need any more.”

She smiled with confidence while gazing in front of her, exactly like a certain someone did.

“Where is the point of having an endless stockpile of arrows if none of them hit their target?”

She looked down on her foe and laughed at him. Given how Castells’ eyebrows twitched, her taunt was effective.

“Then I’ll just take you down!”

He lowered his hand like a commander issuing an order to his troops and black arrows started to fly in the sky.
As her field of vision was filled by a deadly rain, she nimbly extracted another metal arrow from her quiver and started to fend the incoming cluster off.
Whenever the shadows touched her arrow, a metallic sound rang loudly before they lost shape and vanished, and the same happened whenever she used her huge bow as a shield, which she waved in a sort of dance.
The next moment, there she stood pristine and calm. The ground around her was pierced by countless shadows that, losing their shape, started to vanish.

“Ohh, I did not expect this bow to be this good. I guess a sacred tree’s wood is quite hard to break, since it is still in perfect conditions… Given the crazy bird of its owner, I should not be surprised…”

She had to kick it several times to adjust its position in the previous maneuver, and seeing that it didn’t take any damage from it, she was smiling in satisfaction.

“So? Where is your endless stock of arrows? If you never hit me…”

Boom. A thunderous shock wave teared the air.

“…you will die soon.”

The metallic, heavy sound that echoed in the arena made the presents think that the arrow she’d fired had finally landed somewhere, and everyone easily imagined what would have happened if any human was to be hit by it.

“I fired that in the sky because I did not want anyone in the audience to risk their life, but if it landed on you, you would be dead by now. If it grazed you, you would be now without a limb, and if it pierced you, you would now have your body divided in half.”

“Hihihi… yeah, scary. Still, it didn’t hit.”

In front of that, Castells was calm.

“Our Archbishop gave us the best magic tools around. No matter how hard you hit me, you won’t pierce my defense.”

Indeed, Boris’s magic tool defended him thoroughly from one of Kunon’s attacks.
The bow wasn’t as strong as the Hound’s blows, but even if her kick didn’t land directly on him, his barrier activated.
Still, Karin didn’t care. She nocked the arrow, then held the bow with a single hand for a few moments.

“Well, I cannot use my nose to defeat you, neither I know where your law formula is written, so I cannot meddle with it before the activation of your magic.”

She tapped on her temple with her finger.

“Still, I can bypass your defense, since activating the magic tool is up to you.”

Magic tools activated their barriers when their user perceived an attack.
For example, it was highly improbable that one who created them took into account the very few instants before an user cast their spell. In those moments, the caster moved offensively without caring about defending, which meant that they were vulnerable for that very short period of time.

“Your comrade could defend against one of Kunon’s attacks because he was used to fight against demi-humans… but you are not. In fact, someone as depressing as you can only fight from the distance.”

“Hihihi… I hate being called that. My style is harassing my opponent from afar until it gets skewered. Nothing more.”

With a vulgar smile splitting his face, he prepared another storm of black arrows, but Karin, who was looking at him with golden eyes, nodded before speaking.

“I see. So you are not used to high-speed fights.”

She stabbed the ground with her bow, drew it and aimed directly to the man.

“If I attack you fast enough, you will not have time to defend yourself.”

“Hihihi… Who knows? Why don’t you give it a shot?”

Without enduring the tension, his body trembled as his smile disappeared from his face.
Meanwhile, Karin frowned slightly before loosing off the arrow.
The bowstring shook the arena with a thunderous sound.
Cutting through the air at an unbelievable speed, ready to impale its target, the arrow sank into a shadow wall that had formed in front of Castells in a few moments, which broke its momentum right away and made it fall on the ground with a clang.

“That was close… I was about to activate my magic tool.”

Tittering, he looked down on her.

“You obviously used some magic-like measure to fend my shadow arrows off before. I didn’t understand what it was… but it’s probably a magic tool or something that might detect my magic formula, right?”

Karin didn’t answer and nocked another arrow. She could pry into people’s thoughts, but that was just an ability, not magic. Also, she had already peeped at Castells’s law formula’s position.
Kunon already showed that once it was known, avoiding and dealing with law formulas wasn’t hard.
Moreover, if she read which arrow was going to hit her, she could fend them off easily.
Lastly, if she could see where his magic tool was, she could meddle with it before it activated… exactly like Kunon did.

“Oh, what a shame, you were aiming at my law formula. Did you think to meddle with it with your last arrow? Elves’s shallow wit is just too evident!”

Seeing him ready to fire the next wave of black arrows, she clicked her tongue in annoyance before stabbing the ground with her bow again, then fired her last arrow.

“Hihihihaha! How useless! You’re powerless in front of my magic! No matter how fast or powerful your shots are!”

As he let out a dissonant laugh, he erected another wall of shadows in front of him, and exactly like before, the arrow sank into it, then fell on the ground.

“Ihhihihi! Now that you’re out of ammo, your bow is usele—”

He was sticking out his tongue while laughing at her when his field of vision was soiled by a spray of fresh blood.

“Eh… Ah…! AAAHHH!”

He lowered his gaze while screaming, understanding that the origin of the blood and the hot feeling in his foot were related.
There, impaling his foot to the ground, was an arrow that seemed of metal.

“AAAHHH! MY FOOT! MY LEEEG!”

Twinges teared his entire leg.
He screamed loudly while twisting his body to get away from the pain, but he couldn’t escape it. That pain felt like all of his bones were fractured.

“Ohh, so this is your end? Well…”

Tears blurred his vision while a humanoid shadow approached him.

“I told you I didn’t need more arrows.”

Drawing her bow, Karin looked down on him with a triumphant smile on her face.

“How?! I’ve stopped—”

“The last arrow? Well, that would have never hit. I fired it only to let you use your wall.”

She laughed like a child whose prank succeeded.

“I never thought about how you process your magic. I only thought about lending a hit.”

She discarded the idea of dealing with magic from the start and fired an arrow in the sky, calculated its trajectory and how much time it would have taken to fall back, lead her foe where needed, acted so that he stood still, and made him erect his shadow wall to cover his own sight.
But no matter how people thought about it, the only arrow that could have done that was the first one.

“Leading is your style, right? If memory serves me right, you said ‘harassing your opponent from afar until it gets skewered’. Thank you for telling me, it spared me a lot of time.”

She was reading Castells’ thoughts since before the match had started, so she already knew how his magic worked and how he moved. Taking advantage of the doubt that Kunon instilled within people, she made her first attack remain unnoticeable until the very end.
Acting carefully brought her to that outcome.

“For your information, I could win even against Kunon in an one-on-one fight.”

With the light behind her back, her bewitching eyes glimmered like gold. Then she lowered her bow, and stopped drawing it while the man’s expression seemed to lighten at the sound of the flute.


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0

New Game – Chapter 33

TL Note: it’s been… yeah, almost 7 months, and I’m quite ashamed of it. Sorry for the long wait, but it couldn’t be helped. I’ll try my best to release once every 2 weeks, switching between New Game and Dick Silver.
Reminder that we now have a discord server! Feel free to join by clicking here!


The birdie’s tears – Part 1

In that week, Richtert was bustling with life.
Eluria will hold an official match between Richtert’s magic knights and the company Suzuran—those words were announced in every layer of the capital, and many people were shocked by it.
It was the first time that something like that was going to happen, and many citizens started to pay more attention to the company that rose from the slums and earned its power by kicking down the corrupted one.
Both nobles and commoners had the impression that it could really tip the capital’s balance.
And finally, the day came…

“This was to be expected from the queen. There’s quite a lot of people.”

All the people who came to watch the show were making a racket in the western side of the Eltern plains.
To keep the place safe, magic barriers were erected around the seats reserved to the royalty and the nobles.
Lize wasn’t the only one sitting near Eluria, as there were also the three attendants of the overlords and the Fairstadt siblings.
Proclaiming such a unique event publicly attracted the attention of men and women of all ages from every part of the city, which resulted in a full house of the commoner seats.
Looking at the center of that crowd, Takumi nodded in satisfaction.

“Nice… don’t tell me you’re going to be nervous in front of this many people.”

“Do you think I would be?”

“I can’t even see them!”

Karin replied composedly while Kunon, who was blindfolded and handcuffed, commented cheerfully.

“That’s good. You’re being watched by a lot of people, so don’t slip right now, okay?”

As Takumi spoke, he shifted his gaze over the royal seats.
Eluria was looking down on them calmly along with Lize, a shadow cast on her face.
He then noticed that a man was approaching his group.

“Hah! Not running from this match is already an admirable feat for the likes of you!”

Kiad commented with his arrogant attitude.
There were two men following him, a brown-haired one with short hair, and a gloomy looking one wearing glasses.

“Oh, you didn’t run away either, young Fortesea?”

“There is no need for someone like me to run away from you… I only want Her Majesty and all these people to see an enjoyable match.”

A crooked smile cracked Kiad’s face.

“These are Boris and Castells, two powerful elites among the magic knights, and also loyal retainers that I trust. You should be grateful to face someone like them.”

The noble’s plan was to crush Suzuran’s team in front of everyone with powerful magic knights in order to gain merits from the Queen. Looking at them, Takumi smiled cheerfully.
Karin and Kunon’s foes were definitely strong… so the result of the match would’ve had a huge influence on the audience.

“Squirm to your death, trash of the slums.”

After spitting those words in a low voice, Kiad turned on his heels and got back to his side of the arena.

“Hey girls, he told you to die.”

“Was he not talking to you? You totally teed him off.”

“I agree~! I’m sure Takumi wouldn’t die even if you killed him, though.”

The three of them joked with each other while preparing for the match.

“Don’t play around too much… but try your best to make everyone have a good time, okay?”

With those parting words, Takumi headed outside the barrier.
After he left, the magic knights couldn’t bear their laughter anymore and snickered.

“Castells, you heard? They really think they can win.”

“Hihihi… isn’t it good, Boris? Thinking is still free for everyone, remember?”

The short-haired one laughed scornfully, while the other one let out an eerie laugh.

“Bring it on. Lord Kiad said that he wouldn’t mind if you died accidentally, so you might end up dead the moment you move, you know?”

Boris unsheathed the short sword he had tied on his hip and provoked the demi-humans by swaying it.
Still, Kunon and Karin ignored him and kept their composure. The elf placed the long wooden box she was carrying on her back to the ground.

“Kunon, feel free to choose. I will wipe the floor with the other one.”

“Okaaay~! It’s my turn, then! I feel cramped with this blindfold and the cuffs, so I’ll just end this quickly!”

She started to walk toward her target, then began to hop cherfully as she advanced.

“Here I come, Mister loser!”

“…Tch. The boring girl is up to me? The hell was your master thinking when he decided to send you to battle blindfolded and handcuffed?”

“Oh boy… isn’t that obvious?”

Her smile was so broad that it looked like it was splitting her head in two.

“He wanted to show everyone how unsightly and puny you guys are.”

A whistle signaled the start of the match, and Boris clenched his fist around his sword.

“Let me start with crushing your mouth, then!”

He brought his weapon behind him while howling, then unleashed his charged attack.

“I will compliment you if you live through the Head chopper’s slash!”

The earth split accordingly to the trajectory of his slash. It looked like an invisible blade that cut through anything on its path was fired against Kunon, who dodged it flawlessly by stepping on the side, but Boris wasn’t surprised by it.

“Of course you avoided that… You werebeasts have good hearing. No need to use your eyes to roughly grasp where I am, right?”

“…Oh, how smart of you. And here I thought I was gonna bite your windpipe off in a jiffy.”

“You know how many dozens of demi-humans I killed during the skirmishes of the old empire? Of course I know your weak and strong points.”

He rested his short sword on his shoulder and showed a sadistic smile.

“Aren’t werebeasts said to be the top predators? Wolves, tigers, lions, bears, oxen… no matter who they were, I killed plenty of them. How could I lose against a fox?”

Kunon’s ears twitched at his words.

“How many times must I keep repeating that I’m a wolf?!”

Her roar thundered in the stage and shook the air.
She probably felt better the next moment, because when she smiled…

“Takumi told me not to kill you… so I will just maul you hard.”

A vivid shade of killing intent painted her tone of voice.
Still, Boris thought she was bluffing and didn’t take her seriously.

“Let me see how you run with your tail between your legs!”

Smiling like he was enjoying the thrill of a hunt, Boris unleashed another of his attacks. Unlike the previous one, after traveling on the ground, it “jumped” at its target like a viper.
Kunon focused to catch its sound, and once her ears twitched after perceiving it, she slightly moved away and dodged it.
Although she wasn’t fully aware of what was going on around her due to the blindfold, none of the attacks grazed her.

“Oh, c’mon, what’s up?! If ya don’t dodge with spirit, you’re gonna lose your head!”

Without answering his provocation, the wolf kept dodging every attack.
Then, the man had a terrible feeling.
He thought that a werebeast used to fights could dodge one of his slashes… but only one.

“Maaan, you suck so baaad… Don’t you know how to hunt?”

Her voice was calm and her face relaxed while dodging the storm of attacks, which helped that eerie feeling grow within Boris.

“Lemme show you how to do it.”

She hopped a few more times to prepare for her next move, then stomped on the ground forcefully and dashed toward her opponent.

“Wha—”

Her golden afterimage looked like a thunder zapping around. The distance between them was closed in the blink of an eye, and once she was in front of him, she smiled.

“First, you corner your prey.”

The next instant, he saw her leg drawing an arc in the air, and a high-pitched shrill rang when she kicked his face.
His magic tool successfully created a barrier, but she took advantage of his confusion to take some distance again.

“Aaand this is one.”

She then lowered her body and let the chains of her handcuffs rattle as to mock him.
Boris was a little surprised by what just happened.
They were far apart, but she closed the distant in a split second, and that wasn’t all.

“What the… hell did you do?”

“You mean with your pathetic magic?”

He swallowed his saliva.

“You had to put some murderous intent in that first attack… but you were too obvious.”

The man could feel cold sweat running down his spine.

“Your magic… what was it again, Head chopper? Nice name, but your slashes only stop where you want, right? While you hid it by raising dust and making noise, you activated slashing traps you prepared beforehand, didn’t you?”

She giggled happily at her own words.

“Not bad. The attacks you land are invisible, that’s how you could slaughter so many demi-humans… am I right?”

Kunon explained the trick ruthlessly, then waited a few moments.

“Wait, you shutting up because I’m right? Since I took the trouble to explain it, would you please keep talking before this becomes even more boring?”

After hearing her provocation, he didn’t speak another word. An alarm within his head was screaming that he was in danger. If the smallest of sounds escaped from his mouth, the wolf in front of him would’ve gouged his windpipe with her fangs.
Only imagining it made him terrified of that monster.
Meanwhile, Kunon couldn’t stop giggling.

“Man, your heart is sooo noisy! Feel free to shut up, but I’ll still know where you are due to your heartbeat, you know?”

“How… How could you see through my magic?!”

As he forced those words out of him, she let her chains rattle again while placing a finger on her lips.

“Mmmh… I’m blindfolded, so I couldn’t see through anything. I just felt the smell of your magic and guessed what it did.”

“Spare me your bullshit! Magic doesn’t smell—”

“Yes, it does. When the law formula activates and your magic manifests, it smells.”

She bared her canines while grinning fiercely.

“Once I follow it back with my nose… I can reach its source.”

Gaitsu sent some mages against Takumi and his comrades before, and all she needed to do was stomping where the fire pillars where going to spring.

“Of course it’s impossible for you humans to do it, because even demi-humans need to polish their sense of smell to feel it… but see, it’s really easy when you know you’re fighting a magic user.”

She said it was simple, but he understood that it was a strenuous task.
There wasn’t a single demi-human who could grasp how his magic worked before.

“If I’m blindfolded, my sense of smell and hearing will naturally become sharper.”

Wolves, tigers, lions, bears, oxen… no matter how ferocious a werebeast was, none of them could escape their demise.
None of them could smell his magic.
That’s why he was the predator and not the opposite…
But now, a monster was laughing in front of him, making a lot of noise with the rattling chains that bound her.

“Now… let’s put on a show as Takumi asked.”

In that moment, Boris noticed that his hands were trembling. To stop them, he tightened his grip on his short sword.

“Hah… then try to kill me, dirty werebeast!

He let out a war cry to boost his own morale, then swung his sword all around him to form a cutting barrier. If anyone was to step into it, they’d have ended up minced meat.
If she understood what I can do, it’s better not to let her come any closer—guessing his thought, Kunon grinned.

“Do you think that cutting your escape route to stay safe will help you? Preys’ moves are very stupid.”

She then breathed in a huge amount of air, and let out an ear-splitting roar that echoed through the sky like a howl, but sounded closer to a song, and even closer to a word. All the glass in the surrounding area resonated along with it, and soon the overlapping sounds raised their numbers and became a melody.

“W-What… are you doing…?”

Boris Understood what she just did, but he asked it anyway.
That monster had smashed his defence.
To manifest his magic, he channeled it with the law formula, but… it was dispelled with that wall of sound.
Not only his first attack was destroyed, but every other trap resonated with each other and vanished.
While the concert was playing, Kunon walked toward him, her chains still rattling.

“A certain famous archbishop told me that in order to meddle with law formulas, I need to know both their location and shape. A werebeast’s hearing is good. If something is tangible, it can reverberate, and if I hear that, I can grasp its shape1.”

Boris noticed too late that she had already yelled like that when he called her a fox.
Hearing how her voice stretched out in the air, she could accurately grasp the shape of his magic’s law formulas.

“Also, if anyone knew how law formulas are created… even a demi-human like me could meddle with them. As you’ve seen, it’s possible to make it self-destruct.”

The man couldn’t even pronounce ‘impossible’, since the monster in front of him just proved to everyone her words.

“Hunting means cornering a prey both physically and mentally.”

Her giggling grew as their distance closed.

“You… fucking werebeast!

He dispelled the fear that paralyzed him with a thunderous scream and started to swing his short sword around randomly, trying to improve his defense, but Kunon let out a bored sigh.

“Maaan… since there’s no way out for you, at least try a bit harder…”

She lifted her leg and kicked the soil beneath her at full strength, causing it to rupture and send pebbles and stones flying toward him.
Her projectiles were cut in the air without a sound, and when Boris’ defense activated, they left behind a vacuum for a mere instant.

“There should be a limit to how boring something could be.”

When she trained with Elsa while being blindfolded, the magic tools were protected by the barrier surrounding the training field. But when that same barrier was about to activate now, she punched the vacuum with all of her strength—the next moment, the sound of broken glass pierced the arena, and her chains tightened around Boris’s neck.

“Gah… aah…!”

“Didn’t I tell you? I can smell magic. Even if it’s the law formula of a magic tool. Its place… well, I didn’t even think about it this time, I just punched really hard.”

Rattling, her chains started to dig in the skin of his neck while she whispered to his ear.

“You never had a single chance of winning. Only a loser, a prey, would be driven to the corner this one-sidedly.”

Then, a cruel smile cracked her face.

“Now, you were all prideful while saying that you killed dozens of demi-humans…”

While his throat started to gave in due to the chain’s pressure, she delivered her last words with a lunatic smile warping her expression.

“I have slaughtered countless of bugs like you, human.”

The last thing that Boris could hear before losing consciousness was the sound of his spine snapping in half.


1 Probable like a bat’s sonar. Dunno in how many other ways she could do that.

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1+

Guild Master – Chapter 38

TL note: this chapter is written in third person. Dunno why.


The graceful explorer and the company’s truth

Sakuya entered the 10th Street, heading to Garamdoor’s headquarter as her Guild Master had asked.

She was an “Explorer”. Her job wasn’t covert-operations and infiltration oriented, but sometimes top-secret information were out of reach even for those who expertized in the intelligence field.
Silver Mug’s intelligence department, for example, didn’t have many specialized members, but they all sorted and managed the information and sometimes conducted field investigations.

Ravirims live longer than humans, but Sakuya’s age wasn’t that far from her appearance. It’s only because she had stopped counting that no one knew how old she was.

She had met Dick by chance four years before and for a certain reason she joined his guild. Sakuya wasn’t interested in ranking, but when she registered in, she knew her adventurer score for the first time. Her self-defense techniques alone were worth ten thousand points, and summing them to her abilities as a ravirim and her being an Explorer, her total score was 32.384, making her a S rank adventurer.

In the entire capital, about one person every ten thousand people fitted that category, even less fitted the SS one, and only divine-like entities were classified as SSS rank. Sakuya knew that the expedition party and Verlaine were part of the last category, although they didn’t like to show off.

Still, I can’t always leave everything to him…

Muffling her footsteps, erasing her presence and hiding her tall, beautiful figure under a gray overcoat, Sakuya passed by noisy bars and places filled with life despite the late hour. No one could notice her, and those who did never wondered a thing.

Leaving the noise behind her, she entered a block packed with shops; Garamdoor owned almost a quarter of them.

She walked to her destination, and after some time, she finally stood in front of the high wall that surrounded the yard of a luxurious, two-story mansion. Scanning the document provided by her Guild Master, Sakuya’s gaze focused on the sentence ‘Recently, rare animal trading has made Garamdoor grow rapidly.’

He guessed right… I barely smell it, but there’s a faint trace of demi-humans coming from this mansion…

After the ravirim confirmed that no one was around, she kicked the ground and easily leaped to the other side of the wall with a back somersault.

When Sakuya landed, she noticed that some dogs had started to charge her from the inner part of the yard. Dogs were among rabbits’ natural enemies, but ravirims weren’t that afraid of them, so Sakuya reached out to the incoming beasts and whispered a simple word.

‘Illusion.’

Although it was the most basic of magics, its effect was immediate—the dogs, not having any magic resistance, stopped their ferocious charge in a few instants and rolled on the ground happily, showing their bellies to the sky.

Watching them, she couldn’t help but laugh.

“If your owners disappear, I’ll bring you someplace better. You can have a good life if you live together in a group.”

Sakuya didn’t like the smell of other beasts, so she kept her distance whenever she could. Leaving behind the dogs trapped in their illusion, she approached the building.

Having an inter-racial relationship was acceptable only if bound by a blood oath. That way, the demi-human wasn’t bothered by their partner’s smell anymore.

Still, relationships between demi-humans and humans were taboos.
Races that shared the same origin were different thank to the divine blessings that were bestowed upon them. Some were opposites, like elves and dark elves or wolfrim and dogrim. Still, when it came to humans and demi-humans, they were object of mutual derision despite their similar looks.

Sakuya thought that Dick had surely noticed how she felt about them.
She hated those vile humans who turned a blind eye when demi-humans were used to make profit onesidedly.
But she rejoiced when she came to know that virtuous ones existed.

Even so, I classify them as they do with us. If the world was impartial, we would all see so many different things…

Her thoughts flowed into her mind as she turned the corner and got behind the house, where she saw a tree. She dashed over its trunk and easily leaped on the rooftop without making a sound.

She could tell there was an attic from the building’s look, and it only took her a few instants to find its little window and notice that something was off.

It was sealed by chains on the outside, and she could see traces of people entering, as well as evident scratches and grooves inside, signs that they tried to get out from there later but failed to.

Only demi-humans could have done that… If humans didn’t use Support Magic like Dick, tearing off those chains barehandedly was impossible.

Maybe the intruders are still in this mansion… but they’re not human… not if they did those scratches…

Sakuya knew it was risky, but she was ready to fight to some extent. She cast Hazy mist—one of her skills as a ravirim—to null physical attacks, then she untied the chains and opened the window.

Once inside the room, she scanned her pitch black surroundings with her red eyes, that were able to see clearly even when there was barely any light, then she picked up a muffled, almost nonexistent reverberation with her sharp sense of hearing.

Her race was ridiculed as a race of thieves, but Dick told her that her sharp senses could come in handy when they adventured into ruins or labyrinths.

In that very moment, she sensed a demi-human, who almost erased their presence completely, in the attic.

“…You noticed me? Oh well, that’s fine. If you didn’t attack me right away, we probably share the same goal.”

A male wolf-man was hiding in the shadows. He wasn’t young, but neither did he look old.
His clothes reminded her of a thief’s, but Sakuya could tell that wasn’t his main job. A thief would fight with a short sword, but the wolf-man’s figure looked tempered by martial arts as he stood there with a deranged expression.
Then, Sakuya spoke.

“I didn’t expect someone to precede me. You didn’t sneak in here to steal something, did you?”
“No, I’ve already completed my research. Knowing that she was here is more than enough… you should go home now. I’m going to slaughter everyone in this house, and I really hope you don’t want to get involved.”

Her gaze searched around the room and she started to connect the dots.

In that attic laid blankets, which were probably used and abandoned by someone.

Piecing together the feral grooves and the new information she was acquiring, she could easily imagine what happened in there: several demi-humans had been confined in that room.
She then returned her gaze to the wolf-man.

“Can we talk it over? I have some business here, so I can’t follow your suggestion.”
“You look smart, so I bet you guessed what happened in here. The goods this company is trading are demi-humans. I’m looking for them… and I know my daughter has been here. Garamdoor must have already sold or moved her to another place to avoid being tracked down… but no matter what, I must make them pay for this.”
“As far as I know, Garamdoor is trading rare goods. They’re not selling slaves… that’s only a facade.”
“A facade? They’re buying caught demi-humans to sell them to adventurers and criminals. This is the truth.”

Sakuya went over Dick’s guess and drew her conclusion after thinking about what she had seen. But to confirm it, she absolutely needed that one proof.

“If you slaughter everyone in this mansion, how can you be sure that the person you’re looking for is safe?”
“…Then what? I should calm down? Choose your words wisely. It’s already too late, and I have my reasons to get my revenge. Those bastards tricked and abducted my daughter, who was only interested in the city of humans.”
“No one would tell you that. I’ll let them pay, but killing them won’t make you feel any better. I mean it. There are many living hells in this world—even if you razed this place, you won’t solve anything on the long-run.”

The man opened his eyes wide. The girl in front of him, who spoke in a collected way and looked like a supporter of non-violence, hid vivid hostility and hatred for humans way deeper than his, which he easily perceived in her words.

“…If I do as you say, do you think I can take my daughter back home?”
“It will be more probable, yes. If you kill someone in here, Garamdoor’s vigilance will probably become stricter, but we need it to be loosen. We can show everyone how they’ve sinned, but we need proofs for it.”
“Proofs…? If they sold demi-humans, this mansion should have plenty of scratches around.”
“No, they keep trading rare goods. Can your daughter perhaps shape-shift?”

Only a small part of demi-humans could, and they usually kept it a secret.

Shape-shifting could make them revert to their ancestors’ shape, bringing them the qualities of a pure-blood creature. This led them to earn respect from their own kin, but also made their fellow villagers envy of their blood, making even their friends contend each other to obtain it.

“…Are you saying that humans put a price on pure-blooded demi-humans?”
“I mean that they see shape-shifting demi-humans like rare articles, so they will put an expensive price tag on them…”
“After my daughter shape-shifts, she always returns to her original form. You can’t just mix her for an animal. Even if you sell someone like that, everyone would notice that it’s just a demi-hu…”

His voice trailed off as he realized it.

“People should be able to notice it right away, but they aren’t. That’s how Garamdoor can disguise their demi-human trafficking with an animal selling business. Whatever they’re using for this purpose, it’s surely hidden in this mansion.”

After Sakuya’s declaration, the man fell silent, and after a few instants he picked up one of the blankets… probably his daughter’s.

Once he dropped it again, he held his fist against his brow as if he was telling a silent prayer.

“…What’s your name? I’m Gustav Wolfgang, a wolfrim.”
“I’m… Sakuya.”
“Good. I understood that we share the same goal… what a bizarre coincidence. Let me come with you.”
“Okay. We will investigate this place without being noticed. Do you know some concealing techniques?”
“Not as good as yours, but no human can notice me, although I only look like an unreliable old man.”

Sakuya estimated that Gustav was an A rank adventurer, so cooperating with him would’ve been fine. As they were about to start their investigation, a doubt crawled in the back of her mind.

“How did you deal with the dogs in the yard?”
“I just glared at them. A domestic dog will never match a wolf.”

Despite the rage and killing intent that gushed from him until a few moments before, he was now letting out a soft laugh as his expression relaxed, and Sakuya grasped his kind nature.

May his daughter be safe…

Holding her hand against her chest, she passed her fingertips on the collar she hid under her overcoat.

Being free from persecution and living a peaceful life… that was her earnest dream.

Expressing her deepest gratitude to Dick, who asked her to take part into this mission, she once again confirmed that her master’s guesses were never wrong.
The next moment, Sakuya and Gustav left the attic behind to descend to the mansion’s second floor.


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Guild Master – Chapter 37

TL note: This novel got a manga! Go check it out! The illustrations are super adorable! https://mangahub.io/chapter/he-didn-t-want-to-be-the-center-of-attention-hence-after-defeating-the-demon-lord-he-became-a-guild-master/chapter-1.1


The ice fox and the ravirim1 race

Only one member of the intelligence team, who was currently dressed as a customer, was in the bar—Leeza. She could provide me with some information about the merchants.

I do know something spicy, but treating me to something good will loosen my tongue. Deal, buddy?”
Wait, are you already drunk? What happened? C’mon, tell me about it.”
It’s nooothing! I only happened to find a cute guy in the intelligence depaaartment, but he said he’s not interested in giiirls and didn’t give me his addreeess! Damn my three handicaps! I know I’m a bottomless bit with no sex appeal and flat as a board!”

I didn’t find her that bad, honestly, but given that she was into good-looking guys, they all probably searched very ideal characteristics for a girl.

Actually, they probably didn’t want to mix work and love, as the latter could be found in other places. Even I and Cody, although I believed her to be a man in the past, never approached each other thoughtlessly despite our friendship.

I’ll have something too. Don’t mix drinks up, though. It’s not a wise choice.”
Yeah, I know, but why is that?! Tell me, buddyyy!”
It’s a matter of taste. A drinker should know that mixing alcohol will numb their tongue in no time. It makes you get drunk easier too. That’s the only way for me to get drunk.”
Whaaat? Is that so? I’ll watch out then, but it’s too late for me now.”
We also have drinks that help you overcome the numbness. Master, a refreshing lemonade, please.”

It was spring water blended with lemon juice and enhanced with Healing Magic, a great drink to recover. There was barely any sugar, so many guests ordered it before leaving in order to avoid being sluggish at work the next day. Since it worked very well and cost only eight copper coins, they usually came to drink here again.

After seeing it, even Cody, who looked dizzy, kept ordering the same drink without mixing it with any other. I could have purified her liver if she let me, but I doubt she would have granted me a chance like that so easily.

Now that I thought about it, I started to be conscious of her. It’s said that friendship can’t bloom in a relationship between opposite sexes, but I just couldn’t accept this line traced by who knows who.

Mmmh…! Tastes good. I did not know this could be served as the last drink.”
Pretty boy, have you never had it before?”
Hahaha… Saying I did would sound presumptuous of me. Anyhow, you have something interesting to tell me, right?”

Cody was making things easier for me, although I literally spent my day drinking… but I was still good so who cared about me.

If she was a man, seeing him overly helpful wouldn’t have bothered me, but when I thought that he was a girl, somehow it didn’t feel the same… I ended up thinking about it so often I was starting to feel guilty.

Well, the merchants should’ve bought their beasts from someone in the capital, right? But uncontrolled beasts might spread disease and stuff, so only controlled ones should be kept.”

Mylarka’s fairy bird had been registered and controlled when she received it, and even the fire dragon that we rode together had been checked by Shura, who said it was in good shape.

Now, keeping beasts is really expensive, so beast traders profit from their job only by selling specific animals to nobles. I mean, dogs, wild wolves, kitties… there’s a low demand for them, so beast traders must capture rare animals to keep their business alive.”
That way it feels closer to selling a treasure, right?”
Right, exactly. Then it becomes a race and quarrels start to become daily routine between them. I heard that a certain company called ‘Garamdoor’ found a way to grow really fast, but I don’t trust some of those rumors…”

Thanks to the last report I heard about Garamdoor, I was doubtful too.
Joyce Weltem, a merchant I knew who sold beasts among other things, wondered how that company could have that many rare articles, so he tried to search and reach out to their supplier… but it was of no use.

As far as the public knew, there wasn’t any problem in Garamdoor’s conduct…
Was that real?

Zect wouldn’t have fussed over the fleeing beast if it wasn’t precious…
Still, I felt the problem was probably way deeper than that.

Lady Leeza, why do you doubt them?”
Well, I heard about this only today, but it’s said that Garamdoor has obtained a beast called ice fox that they want to sell. Thing is that no one has ever seen it, and some wonder if it’s a phantom beast or not… but the strangest part is that its fur looks like a certain humanoid species.”

That was very specific… thank goodness none of the customers seemed to listen, so we didn’t need to pretend it was just some rumors.

A humanoid species…? Do you mean the ‘blue fox tribe’? Well, ice is indeed blue, but would that be the same for a beast…?”
Ah, Mister, you know them? I was joking, didn’t you get it…?”

Exactly as the name suggests, the Blue fox tribe was formed by fox-like humanoids with blue fur.

Ahhh… Sorry I couldn’t tell you more. That‘s all I know for tonight.”
I found it very interesting, Lady Leeza. Later I will make you receive a good reward.”
Really?! Thank you~♪ I’ll let you know if I hear anything else!”
Please do. I would be thrilled even to hear about your love life.”

Verlaine loved gossip way more than I did. She knew every guild member’s love story.

Surprisingly enough, even the younger ones kept their distance if they didn’t have a real chance to get closer to each other. For example, probably Rigel’s team would’ve never seen Lia as one of its members’ girlfriend.

Leeza was popular in our guild, given her morals and the right distance she put between her and boys. She was also kind with everyone and a hard worker with a bright personality… probably her only problem was that she was too picky when it came to looks.

Well… I will take one last drink and go back home. Dick, what are you going to do about this?”

Cody spoke almost in whispers. Of course, I was already wrecking my brain to solve this mess.

It was really interesting. Knowing something like this makes a huge difference. It made me want to keep drinking.
Are you not drunk yet? You keep your eyes peeled more than anyone else in here.”
Eheheh… Actually, his eyes are always half-closed. It has been a while since last time I saw them wide open.”

When I tried to open them wide as they said, both Cody and Verlaine started laughing.

◆◇◆

After that Cody had left and the bar was closed, I sneaked out the backdoor while cleaning.

Someone’s there? I need some help.”
Yes. How can I help you, Master?”

Waiting there stood another member of the intelligence team, a werebeast and collegue of Leeza called Sakuya.

Both her hair and skin were white and her rabbit ears were proof of her ravirim lineage. Her kin’s hair was colored, but she was albino. Below her scarlet red eyes was a little mole which boosted her stiff-looking beauty.

Ravirims could cover the traces they left behind, their extremely sharp hearing made them hear what humans couldn’t, and they were perfect for missions that required nimble adventurers. Also, their magic affinity was great, so their spells were usually better than the average ones.

They were eye-catching and given the lack of clothes on their slender bodies, their sense of shame was quite different from a human’s. Letting their beauty in plain sight was a double-edged sword, but in our case, Sakuya was an S rank adventurer, so if some fool dared to lay his hands on her, he would probably regret it in a few instants.

Listen, I need a favor. Can you examine a place for me?”
You mean this night? Yes, I can. Do we have permission to do that or are we going to look for some kind of proof?”
Actually, the latter. Sorry for not giving you more specific instructions.”
Don’t mention it. Your instructions are never flawed, Master. My duty is to inspect what you want.”

My guess was unfounded, but I was sure that Garamdoor was doing something that concerned both the blue fox tribe and that mysterious ice fox.

Demi-humans are involved in some unclear matter… Sorry, does this make you feel uneasy?”
…Why are you apologizing, Master? You don’t discriminate us. If you say that something’s off, I will assist you to find the truth.”
Can you go right away, then? I need to prepare some stuff for a mission that Rigel has accepted. Today another guild threatened to make a move against him.”
Understood. This document should fill me with the details, right? I’ll take my leave.”

She cast Hiding and disappeared before heading to Garamdoor’s company.

This job was a lot of work, but gathering information was necessary. If my guess was right, those guys were using some kind of magic tool to meddle in some way with demi-humans.

Master… do you really think that is the case?”

When I returned to the bar, Verlaine was waiting for me. Only a few chores were left.

Yes. Some demi-humans can shape-shift into their ancestors’ form at will, so if there was a magic tool that could force the process…”
I did not think that far ahead… but it makes sense. I only assumed that some kind of magic could block their shape-shifting.”
If someone could cast a spell like that, we’d need to take precautions. Anyway, we need to gather more information about this matter.”
Who knows what are we going to pull out of this hat2 No matter how we look at it, this job will take an unexpected turn. How will we handle Zect?”
If we do things the right way, we might make him join us. Even if our hierarchy is loosen, he should be fine as long as he keeps growing and improving, don’t you think?”

I didn’t know how she selected people for their jobs when she was a Demon Lord yet, and while she crossed her arms under her chest, she raised one of her fingers.

Strong people are not necessarily good, but we‘re currently missing SS rank adventurers in our guild. If we could have one, we could make them collaborate with fellow guildsmen. It would trigger a nice chain reaction.”
Do you think so too? I agree with you.”
GrrrI know we are often on the same wavelength, butyou are always so straight-laced… still, the more you are, the more I get excited. I noticed it recently, though.”
I’d love to ask you what are you talking about… just stop sneaking into my bed at night. Sakuya delivers me her reports during nighttime.”
What’s with that respectful tone about her…? I am the older one between us. You should respect me more than Sakuya.”
Oh, c’mon, don’t make a big deal out of it. I’ve always treated her like this, haven’t I?”

She pouted again but there wasn’t anything else behind her groan. When I first met that ravirim, who looked like an adult compared to me, I was only fourteen.

Anyway, I had to wait for the report and prepare what was necessary for Rigel.

If the beast they were going to find was a transformed demi-human that for some reason couldn’t revert to its other form, I had to find a way to dispel that block.


1 It’s written “月兎人” (literally “moon rabbit people” ) but furiganas say “ラヴィリム”, so we went for “Ravirim”

2 The original uses a cute expression: “鬼が出るか蛇が出るか” (literally “what will come out, a demon or a snake?”), which probably comes from those jack-in-the-box things. The meaning should go along the lines of “who knows what is awaiting us”, but we wanted to keep this as an idiom. Is there something that fits better?

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Guild Master – Chapter 36

The wanderer Shadow chaser and the fleeing beasts

When I returned to my bar and things started to quieten down, the night shift had already started and Cody made her way in, dressed in her usual male attire.

Even though the General of the Albein’s army was a girl, she didn’t drink like one, and although I knew her secret, her behavior didn’t change.

“What happened? Today you look in high spirits.”

Cody was probably more relaxed now that the King prevented dukes from bothering the army and weakened their power. Even Vinceburg, the noble family that most troubled knights, wasn’t much of a nuisance anymore.

Still, that probably wasn’t the only reason, given how she looked at me with a radiant smile blooming on her lips.

“Recently knights barely moved for nobles’ business, so this Sunday I was allowed to take half the day off!”
“Oh, that’s great. You should rest and take it easy when you can.”
“If I do not train my body every day, it will affect my performance. I should always take some time to train, regardless of holidays.”

Cody was too serious about that, but it wasn’t a bad thing.
My shop was opened every single day, but those who could use Healing Magic hardly felt wary due to everyday fatigue, and sleeping from four and a half to six hours never made me feel tired or worn out.
Even elves, who brimmed with magic, had a very high tolerance to fatigue. They could be fine by sleeping only once every seventy-two hours, but their perception of time was different from human’s. Still, Verlaine, who was sticking to a human’s sleeping schedule, said she felt like being in Heaven.

“By the way, the Magic Academy’s training will be nearby, so I told them we are going.”
“Training with you will make my muscles sore…”
“Yes, but it will probably be the same for me. Still, you can use Healing Magic, so there is no problem, right?”
“What? Shouldn’t I say that…?”

I knew that she wanted to train with me because there weren’t many people who could face her, but my score in swordsmanship was… Let’s say that I remember vividly how the score-measuring instruments exploded.

If it couldn’t be measured, I had to ask someone to create an instrument capable to do so, but then I realized that it was a hassle and that probably none of my former party members ever measured their score again in those years.

“…You seem distracted. Is something wrong?”
“Nah, nothing serious. But don’t worry, I’ll come with you. Just… let’s be careful not to destroy anything.”

Any common weapon was junk in front of the Light Blade’s power, which always allowed its owner to attack their foe, be it from close, middle or long-range.
Let’s not even talk about the extra-long-ranged attacks, which were simply terrifying. They weren’t good for large areas like Mylarka’s Annihilation Magic, but when it came to a simple, linear attack, there was probably nothing better in the whole world.

They easily exceeded all of my spells’ scope and I could never match the speed of one of those ‘bullets’. No matter how hard I tried to reproduce them, I was always slower and almost felt envious.

“Thank you for coming along, then, and sorry for bothering.”
“Don’t mention it, but are you really sure you want to spend your day-off like that?”
“I do not know how to better spend my time. As the head of the knights, training my subordinates alone is boring.”
“Hahaha… You always looked dead tired before. I’m glad your workplace has become livable now.”
“Still, having more time brings a lot of uncalled things to my mind. A middle ground would be a lot better.”

I felt the same way as her. As I chugged down my ale and was about to order the third glass…

Dling dlong~

…the doorbell rang, and a young man clad in a hard leather armor walked into the bar, his dark overcoat fluttering about.

I remembered him. He was the strongest SS rank adventurer among the five who were currently in the capital.

He approached Verlaine with a deadpan expression and a visible scar on his face while I was thinking how impressive his steel-hard, sculpted muscles were. I mean, I could see them clearly from a distance.

Still, the difference between a SS rank and a SSS rank was abysmal. A normal person would have felt a daunting aura coming from him, but neither I or Cody felt any of that, and once he was in front of the counter, he spoke.

“…Is your Guild Master here?”
“I am really sorry, Mister, but we only run this bar during our night shift…”

Even Verlaine was unaffected by his aura and replied calmly. Then the man, without showing any displeasure on his face, closed his eyes.

Both his deadpan expression, perfect like one of the many actors that played in the capital, and his scar were elements that strengthened his powerful aura.

“…Please, deliver this message to him. Don’t come to the Water Cave, as I cannot assure your members to live.”

We usually fetched the Eternal ice in there, which we used to dilute our alcohol when it was too strong. Also, Rigel was going to enter it, as it was the hideout of the fleeing beasts of the quest he had accepted.

“Mister, it is hard for me to grasp what you meant, so might I ask you to take a seat at the counter?”
“…I don’t plan to stay long. But as fellow workers, I understand that this place has rules, so I should follow them. Still, my message should be clear.”

Yes, it actually was: abandon this mission. Now, what could I’ve done as the drunkard I was?

After I and Verlaine exchanged glances, she brought me and the man an ale, and when he looked at the glass in front of him, his expression didn’t move an inch.

“…You won’t buy me with this.”
“Try to take a sip. Your talk can wait for later, don’t you think?”

He looked at me briefly. Strangely enough, his gaze wasn’t inquisitive—he merely looked at me.

“What is your business there?”

Cody asked in a low voice, but the man didn’t turn to face her as he drank his ale. Instead, he stared at Verlaine—the most valuable person of our guild—while probably thinking that I was a mere nobody.

“I’m a member of the guild Blue sagittarius. The quest giver said that no matter how many guilds would compete for this mission, he wanted those fleeing beasts at all costs, but… it’s all a waste of time. I’m more than enough for that.”
“I beg your pardon, Mister, but might I see something that proves your words?”
“…Is this good enough?”

The man showed Verlaine the guild tag dangling from his neck—it was made of steel and carved on its surface were his information.
Zect Crucifer, SS rank adventurer belonging to the Blue sagittarius guild, joined half a year before. Age 22, job Shadow chaser.

So he worked in the kingdom but came to the capital around half a year before, huh? I shouldn’t be one to talk, but why did he join such an unpopular guild like the 11th Street’s?

But more importantly, why was he so obsessed with that hunting request? Not even the reward was noteworthy, since it was just right for the quest difficulty.

“Yes, it is. Thank you for understanding. I cannot grasp the full picture yet, but should I assume that you want to monopolize this request for your guild?”
“…This isn’t related to Blue sagittarius. It’s a matter concerning me alone.”
“That is not good. You are an adventurer, so as a member of your guild, you also act as its representative.”
“…Mind your own business. Also, I only asked to see this guild’s Guild Master.”

Cody shrugged her shoulders at his retort. Since the conversation seemed over, I urged Verlaine to ask something more precise.

“Is that beast special for you?”

Her whisper melted in the bar’s noise, but Zect heard her clearly.

He slurped his ale, and once the glass was empty, he stood up and left without saying a word.

“…Silence means consent, I guess.”
“Well, yeah…”

I could think about several possibilities. Maybe Zect was friends with the merchants, something happened and he wanted to seize the fleeing beasts by himself.

But he could also be acting due to hatred for one of those beasts.

I couldn’t grasp what was driving him to behave like that, but I knew something for sure: if Rigel’s party was to cross his road, it would face deadly danger. Although ‘Shadow chaser’ was a name that gave off a precise image, it was actually an auxiliary job, but it was still impossible for a party of average B rank adventurers to win against an SS rank one.

“The beasts fled from the merchants… huh?”
“What are you going to do? Should I help you?”
“Nah, don’t worry. Keep drinking and make yourself at home.”

This was a matter concerning my guild, and Cody, probably understanding it, didn’t insist any further.
If I really needed her power, I would’ve asked without beating around the bush, but the situation didn’t look that bad.

Why did Zect come to warn us, a rival guild, like this? And as much as I wanted to see what he was capable of, there was something that bothered me.

“…It hurts, seeing you enjoying this so much. You did not make this face when I invited you to train together.”
“Really? I’m looking forward to it, though.”
“This means that… we cannot satisfy and win him over with some ale, am I right?”

Yes, Verlaine hit the spot. But if I could make him join my guild and convince him that I was the Guild Master, Zect would bring a huge impact and influence to Silver mug.

I didn’t know why he was part of Blue sagittarius yet, but that was exactly the key information to solve this matter.

The solution I wanted would’ve made us win the quest’s reward without clashing swords with Zect while respecting his goal.

If I could’ve made him join my guild, I could’ve enjoyed a peaceful life even more… also, my guild wasn’t any worse than Blue sagittarius, so even Zect would’ve agreed to join.

“We shall prepare to tame the beasts.”

No matter what Zect was thinking, there was only one thing that would push us the right way: knowing what beasts we were talking about.
And well, thanks to my information network, it wasn’t hard for me to find out what we were going to face.


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