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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.”

Geiz 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 Aquarius’ 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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2+

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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7+

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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6+

Guild Master – Chapter 35

TL note: heartfelt thanks to Christian Bote and Dona(rg)tions, each of whom donated ten euros for this series!


The Princess’ magic trainer and the special researcher

I let Verlaine take care of the bar in my absence, prepared what I had to and took the wagon to the Magic Academy.

Pollon was sitting again on the other side of the reception desk, and although it was only the third time I saw her, she greeted me with a smile.

“Good afternoon, Mister Duke. Currently, Professor Mylarka is in her room.”
“Hi, thank you.”

She kept calling me that, but I couldn’t just tell her that name was fake, so I let it be. I used it for helping Timis and now many people were aware that this guy called Duke existed for real.

Maybe it was better if I used that name for my research on the fire dragons’ routine. I didn’t know if the Magic academy was interested in it, but I wanted to hear Mylarka’s opinion about it… although she’d probably care only about magic-related researches.

Before I could walk away from the reception desk, I heard Pollon commenting out loud.

“Ohoooh…! How adorable! I can’t believe a man is bringing lunch and sweets to a girl~! I’m fed up with the tasteless food I eat at the academy’s mess hall.”
“Don’t you cook for yourself? If you want, I can make someone deliver you something to eat every day.”
“Really? If you’re serious, I might really accept, you know?”
“Can’t you just take the chance to grab some food from the delivery guy?”
“I’d love to, but I understand that you’re saying it only because you’re kind, Mister Duke.”

It would be normal to request the daily delivery of food, especially if what you eat is tasteless.

“I appreciate the thought, but as tempted as I am right now, if your cooking was really that good, I’d have trouble getting back to normal food, so I’ll pass for now.”
“Let me know when you’d like to try it. I don’t think it tastes great, but I’m sure it’d be great for a light meal, like the snack at three o’clock.”
“That’d be perfect. If you push yourself this much for Professor Mylarka, you must find her very attractive, don’t you?”
“N-No? I can’t deny she is, but we don’t feel that kind of mutual attraction. We only understand each other.”
“Is that so? Oh, I should let you go now. I shouldn’t stop you for long. Enjoy your time here.”

Pollon waved at me and I headed to the laboratory.
The next moment, Mylarka popped out from the hallway’s corner.

She was glaring at me coldly, and I had the feeling that she had been doing it for a while.

“…I knew it. Acting cool and friendly is your style, huh?”
“Well, yeah, but I was talking about business.”
“Liar. Didn’t she tell you that she wants to eat something good because the mess hall’s food is horrible? She’s been interested in your cooking ever since I gave her some of your sweets.”
“I see. So, now the stuff I cook is palatable? That was the first time I gave you something, though. The more I’ll keep doing it, the more the quality will rise. I don’t like delivering the same thing twice.”

Changing the menu every day was one of my obsessions, but I had to abandon the idea after a hundred days. I rotated the seasonal ingredients to come up with something new every time, but I understood that clients were already more than satisfied.

Still, this was only the third time I brought Mylarka food. Compared to the cookies I brought her the first time, the three-layered sandwiches I currently had with me should’ve been better. They contained meat, seafood, cream and some fresh fruit. I thought they might’ve been too heavy, so I kept them small and only prepared two. I’d gladly finish the leftovers once I got back home.

“Still, when we talk about cooking, your eyes shine brightly… did you really want to become a cook this much?”
“It’s only my hobby, and I don’t back down from cooking for my customers at the bar.”
“Isn’t it contradictory? It’s only a hobby but you act like a pro… Right, since today Manarina is coming over, might I share some with her?”
“Of course. I planned to bring home the leftovers and eat them myself, but feel free to finish them yourselves.”
“…Sometimes you’re so kind you’re almost scary. I’d almost feel better if you had a hidden reason, honestly.”
“Let me be frank, I like watching girls stuffing their face happily.”
“Wh…?! L-Looking and not touching isn’t bad in itself, but you do know that feeling happy from seeing someone eating makes you a pervert, right?! Do I have to teach you everything, you donkey?!”

Why did I feel more relaxed now that she used her sharp tongue again? Was I getting used to her insults?

◆◇◆

When we reached the laboratory, Mylarka shared some food with Manarina who was waiting outside. Since she often dropped by my shop, I saw her eating what I prepared plenty of times, but now she was so happy that it made me feel better too.

“How can bread taste this good…? What on earth have I been eating so far…?”

I guessed she was studying until a few minutes ago, given that her brunette hair was tied behind her back. She usually left it down, so it was refreshing to see her in this look.

Even Mylarka had her hair tied in two different braids and it had been a while since I last saw her doing it, although it wasn’t like she never did it. I guessed it was annoying when her long hair hung in front of her or ended up stuck in her books while she was studying.

“Mmmh…! Yum! Mhh… Wait, don’t I look like I’m being fed after working hard like some pet?”
“Well, if you don’t eat, your brain won’t work. There’s also some fruit left for later.”
“Mylarka, I did not know you asked someone to bring you food… Despite it being shameful, I still am envious of it being so good…”
“If I don’t bring her better things, she will soon grow tired of it.”
“Oh my, how scary… I lost myself for a moment back there.”
“I am almost hoping for the next time you will come here, Sir Dick. Might I tag along with you when the time comes?”
“Sure, Manarina. You’re one of this seminar’s students, right?”
“H-Hey, stop accepting clients so easily. I was letting you bring me food as a sign of gratitude…”

Now that Mylarka mentioned it, it had been a while since last time I wrote a new name in my food delivery customer list.

“…Do whatever you want as long as I’m not affected by it, but try to not get too busy, okay?”
“Yeah, sure. I can’t stay away from my guild for too long either since I feel sorry for leaving others doing stuff I should handle.”
“Does this mean that you allow me to benefit from your service? Thank you very much, Sir Dick.”

Well, it was only obvious that I’d have accepted her as a customer, since she was a princess and first heir of this kingdom.

Thinking about it, Vinceburg aimed at the throne again, but I didn’t know if she had an understanding of what happened.

“My sisters, as well as me and my mother, are heir to the throne, but Jean advanced a marriage proposal to my eight-years-old sister… even my father, who wanted to strengthen the bond between our families, was shocked by that. After that, we discovered that Vinceburg’s family was causing a massive problem, and that left a sour taste in our mouth.”

Despite one’s status, someone should choose their soulmate by itself. Manarina knew that she had a duty bestowed on her by her princess status, but I believed that she shouldn’t ignore her feelings, although I understood that was but an immature thought.

“The best is living as you want. When it becomes hard for you, come to me for a new request.”
“T-That is… You already did something for me that I could never repay in my whole life. I cannot keep relying on…”
“Don’t worry, Manarina. Even if you think you’re bothering him, this guy actually loves helping people.”
“I’d spare myself from doing bothersome stuff, but your problems weren’t anything like that, so don’t worry.”

If I could change her life with a request, I wanted to take responsibility to save her again in the future. It was better if things remained calm and nothing happened, but Silver mug was ready to take another request anytime.

“…If that is what you think, Sir Dick, I will not speak any further. I feel so—”
“Dick, Manarina can’t study when you’re around. This might worsen her GPA and it also means that you’re ruining her life. Start to help her now.”
“I’m bad at studying, but magic is my field of expertise, so I guess I can try.”
“Really? I sealed a contract with fire spirits, but I still can’t cast Firefly…”
“This might be due to the lack of exercise. Let me see how you do it.”
“O-Okay. Give me a minute, without my notes I do not remember the spell…”

Did she always do that? And did Mylarka always allow her to? As I glanced at her teacher, I couldn’t help but think that red glasses suited her very well thanks to her blonde hair; instead, on the student’s nose were placed rimless ones.

“O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Light a small flame in front of me…”
“Your magic power isn’t working along with the spirits’. Let’s start from there. I’ll help for once so that you can feel how it should be.”
“Oh… Okay. Thank you in advance, Sir Dick.”

Even some of my guild members didn’t know how to use magic at first, but they only needed to understand what to do.
Although they had sealed contracts with spirits, their magic power didn’t connect with theirs, so they didn’t know the necessary steps or the feeling that led them to cast spells, and many ended up thinking they just weren’t cut out for it.

Manarina was in the same situation. I placed my hand on her head and cast Elemental Rise, a support magic that temporarily rose the target’s affinity with spirits.

“This feeling… I did not know that spirits lived all around us…”
“Yeah, Spirit Magic is founded on a thing called ‘elemental core’, which can be stimulated to raise specific spirits’ power. Try to call it before your spell.”
“Okay… O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Gather in front of me—Elemental core!”

The air was dense with fire spirits and Mylarka, who knew Spirit Magic’s theory but still didn’t learn it, voiced her doubt.

“If she tries to use Firefly now, wouldn’t it explode?”
“Firefly isn’t a strong spell. It will only burn brighter.”

I looked at Manarina, whose expression was tense and nervous, then nodded. She should’ve been able to cast her spell now.

“…O blazing spirits, I invoke you in the name of Manarina Lyra Albein! Light a small flame in front of me—Firefly!”

When she finished chanting the formula, the spirits gathered in front of her hand ignited, giving birth to a small ball of fire that floated and swayed into the air before vanishing.

“I-I did it…! Sir Dick, Mylarka, I used magic!”
“Wah! W-Why are you squeezing me?! I didn’t even help you!”
“C’mon, what’s the problem? It’s not like I’m gonna charge you for this or anything.”
“N-No… I just cannot count on you all the time, yet you helped me again. How could I ever repay you…?”
“If I keep helping you in applying Spirit Magic, will I become one of Mylarka’s pupils?”
“W-Where does that come from…? I can let you help me in my researches if you really want to…”

I already worked with her during our expedition, so I shouldn’t have had any problems.
Then, the girls spoke again.

“As disgraceful as it is to say this in front of you, I am looking forward to it.”
“What are you looking forward to, precisely? Listen, Dick, if you send me any kind of report, you’d become famous. Can you come up with something to avoid that?”
“Yeah, sure. Now I can use this academy’s library and look at your experiments and researches. This sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?”

That’s how a new student—Duke Solver—was added to Mylarka’s seminary registry.

The report I wrote under that name, “magic aptitude’s existence criteria and how to approach magic”, became a sort of sacred book for the students who couldn’t use magic.

Since explaining how I did things my way worked very well, I was asked to teach a course, “Approaching magic”, but I obviously declined. I couldn’t just wear a mask to disguise myself, neither I wanted to use magic to change my look, so I just left my report there and hoped that students could go through it by themselves.
In the end, I wasn’t a teacher like Mylarka, and I wanted to be left alone.

“If you make your study on fire dragons public, I think the royal family would send some scouts to find you and ask you to become their personal researcher.”
“If you say that, I feel like I’ll keep that for myself. Relaxing is the best.”
“…Next time you write something, let me see it. In exchange, I’ll let you see my researches.”

Being present in her lessons wasn’t bad at all.
As I bit my tongue while looking at a thesis that only Mylarka could put into practice, I wrote a report about “calculating large building’s center of gravity and how to destroy them efficiently”. I couldn’t just tell her to research something that anyone could actually apply.


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2+

Guild Master – Chapter 34

TL note: sorry for disappearing for this long, but this year has been quite hard for me and my editor.
We do have some great news, though! To avoid sudden and long hiatus like this one, I created a discord server where you can see if we’re still alive ( –> https://discord.gg/nf5k8B5 )! You can find the button at the bottom of our home page! 
Talking about the Disappearence of AcanTL, luckily the first volume of this light novel ends in the very same way of chapter 33, so at least we don’t feel too bad for being away for this long. I don’t remember massive differences between web novel and light novel so far, but there are a few here and there. Maybe one day I’ll create a page about that…
This chapter and the next one are titled “special” in the web novel, but they are necessary for the story (and appear later in the light novel), so we have just considered them “standard ones”.
Anyway, I hope we can get back on track soon!


Invite for a drink and the maid-dressed shopkeeper

The names of the Star Gods filled the Kingdom of Albein’s calendar, and even my guild, ‘Silver Aquarius’, was named after one of them, the Water Jug God.

The current month of the year, the fifth one, was called ‘month of the Lion God’, but it wasn’t clear under which criteria the Star Gods were related to their specific months.

The climate was mild roughly from the third to the seventh month of the year, and only the eighth one was abnormally hot. It was due to the Lord of Fire Spirit’s non-stop activity, causing the migration of fire dragons to the kingdom.

At this time of the year, sunrise was around 5:30AM.
It was exactly the moment I lifted my heavy eyelids and pulled the curtains open only to be blinded by light—the next moment I pulled them back. I had to wake Verlaine up, who wasn’t the definition of a morning person, prepare breakfast for the both of us, and set things up for the morning shift.

If I wanted to drink in peace, a minimum number of people had to keep entering the bar, so I also had to think about what I’d have to cook for the day, and what rare ingredients and dishes I could use to pique the customers’ interest.
The next step was to decide a new menu and come up with an original name for it. The same went for drinks: high-class ones were stored in the shop’s underground, where the ideal temperature and humidity preserved them perfectly along with the various fruit juices I used.
Oh, I had to confirm the fruits’ freshness before squeezing them too.

I handled my business partners by myself to restock the daily ingredients and even checked the capital’s morning market, where I could directly judge the quality of the products. Making people happy doesn’t come without efforts, after all, so I had to pay extra attention to the ingredients.

The same went for my look. When I was in my bar drinking, I couldn’t just look like a beggar or a rich guy.

The best option was to have only two pair of clothes and switch between them for a week, then rotate with newer ones when they started to look shabby. If rumors about a customer always wearing the same clothes were to spread, a normal person would’ve likely wondered if the place lacked hygienic care.
For the same reason, I took care of my hair periodically. When I was a child, my older sister cut it whenever she felt like it, so sometimes it grew very long, but now I dropped by a trusted shop once a month to let them handle it.

My beard and mustaches hardly grew, but let’s say that I let the barber shave me due to the pleasant feeling of the barbershop lady’s breasts pressing on my head while she did so.

I got used to seeing big breasts, but I never had the chance to touch them. No curse tormented me, though. I simply kept myself collected like a horse whose carrot dangles in front of its eyes.

After I washed my face, I knocked at my office’s door so that Verlaine could forgive me for entering even if she was still asleep.

“I’m coming in.”

I opened the door.
We kept the paperwork in the office, but given how much room was left, Verlaine brought her bed to sleep there. She rearranged the place as she pleased and brought new furniture, but there was still enough room to freely move around.

When I entered, she breathed out deeply while turning over “in her sleep”. If her timing hadn’t been that perfect, I’d have thought she was really sleeping.

“Do you know how many times I’ve called you already? At least greet me properly.”
“…Uff. You’re so cold, Master. Isn’t it normal to take the bait in this situation?”

Honestly, it was impossible for anyone to not look at them.
Verlaine slept in a shirt, which was unbuttoned up to under her chest, and was lying on her back. It was a poisonous sight for a man.
A single mistake now and I’d have had to deal with a lot of troubles.

“I was planning to make you take responsibility if the last button was to burst…”
“I don’t care about seeing you stretching, but you’ll catch a cold if you sleep like that.”
“When I was a Demon Lord and lived in the castle, I used to sleep naked. I already explained to you that I hated the feeling of wearing something while sleeping.”
“Thank you for caring about me, but at least wear some underwear.”
“I do use it… A-Although I joke about it, I’m not an exhibitionist, okay? That’d be bad…”

Then, Verlaine finally got out of bed.
The day she joined my guild, she was interested in the shirts I used as sleepwear, so she occasionally took one from my room. Along with that, she was wearing short trousers that left a lot of her tanned, long, beautiful legs uncovered.

“Wearing them would be better for you… by the way, why don’t you try to wear a proper pajama or something?”
“Thank you, but I don’t want to wear tight stuff even outside my working hours. Now I’m used to it, but wearing and taking off my maid uniform is not that simple, you know? I asked some specialists to teach me, and I ended up doubling their wages after I understood what they had to keep through all day.”
“Well, you could wear clothes that any shopkeeper would wear. I wouldn’t mind it. There should be some ready to use around…”
“Master, you prepared clothes for the barman…? That’s curious. I guess I should try them at least once. Also, if I keep wearing the same outfit, people will just grow accustomed to seeing it.”

Her attitude and look attracted a lot of customers. Some male customers in particular came only to admire her maid uniform, but I could probably increase the regulars if she changed her outfit… no, the flow of customers was already too much to handle, so I had to be careful about it.

She stood up and headed to the bathroom. Verlaine washed twice a day, at night and in the morning, because she liked being clean. There weren’t many people in the 12th Street who did something that luxurious, probably.
But well, she was still a former Demon Lord, so indulging in a little luxury wasn’t that strange for her.

◆◇◆

Thirty minutes later, when Verlaine was ready, we had breakfast together and went to the basement to prepare the various things for the bar. After we decided the menu for the day, it was finally time to open the shop.

The first customer entered… or maybe I shouldn’t have counted it as one, since he was a member of our guild. His name was Rigel, a neat guy with short hair and a medium build. He passed the adventurers’ exam last year and decided to join my guild. A singular choice, given that normally no one would want to work in a bad neighborhood like the 12th Street’s.

He was a B rank adventurer as well as a party member of Lia and McKinley.
Even if his rank was lower than hers, since she was an A rank, I decided that she should’ve listened to him.
What I valued greatly was the experience earned since a member joined the guild. She didn’t look very disappointed from my order, and soon grew used to helping Rigel with his requests. On the other hand, McKinley adored me, so he’d have done whatever I asked him to, but I was sure he knew that it was for their sake, as it helped them grow and develop more self-independence.

“Bro, you look ready to start the day.”
“Hello. You look quite in high spirits. Here, have something to drink, it’s my treat.”
“Thankw! Maaan, I so wanted to drink some ale!”

Rigel had a cheerful personality but was actually pretty serious and diligent. His swordsmanship was also noteworthy, and I estimated that in only five years he could have risen up to be an AA rank adventurer.

Reaching the S rank wasn’t something achievable with time and experience alone, given the huge amount of skills it needed. Even a talented fighter like Lia would stop in front of that barrier, and it would be extremely hard to overcome it.

“By the way, I was asked to give you this, but…”

He placed a piece of paper on the counter and passed it to me.

The words “To our beloved Master, from your loyal guild members” were clearly visible on it.

“…Again? What’s the fun part of drinking together with me?”
“Well, everyone would like to show you some gratitude. I shouldn’t tell it to your face like this, though.”

My guild counted around a hundred members. If I had to estimate how many they were compared to the others’, I’d say that our guild had fewer members than every other guild in the capital. White Aries, the most numerous guild, counted a thousand members, which was more than three hundred members over the second in ranking.

I wanted my members to cover the capital’s borders, and now that we had installed the Transfer Magic system and established the main base, there were fifty of them scattered in the places I indicated. The other fifty were in the capital and showed in the shop only to accept requests from Verlaine or to join a party.

The seats in the bar were seventy in total: eight at the counter and sixty-two at the tables. Meaning that I could convoke the fifty members in the capital, but… if I had to do that, what would be the point of coming here precisely to join parties and accepting requests?

“Mister, is it not good? It has been a month since the last time you joined them. If you want, I can reserve the shop for you in a few days.”
“I knew our shopkeeper would understand~! Bro, how blessed we are to have a beauty like her with us!”
“I’m just a customer, and she’s the shopkeeper. But yeah, she’s quite the beauty.”
“Eheh… thank you, misters. I appreciate your flattery.”

Verlaine, who now looked like a normal elf, simpered at our words. Her humbleness was evident since she started to work here, but ours weren’t words of flattery, we were simply stating the truth.

“Fine, I’ll treat everyone. Bring as many as you want.”
“Really?! Ah, sorry for yelling…”
“By the way, Mister Rigel. Might you be interested in what I heard recently from some customer?”
“Ah, sure! I’d love to hear it!”

Verlaine’s requests sounded like rumors. She wasn’t very busy at the moment, but the kitchen clerk was already at work and people had started to enter the shop.
Since she couldn’t let everyone hear about requests, she made them sound like some sort of daily talk.

“It is about some merchants who had an accident. I heard that the animals they were transporting ran away and shut themselves in a cave nearby…”

Someone brought us this request the previous day.

It was about a group of merchants who were trading rare animals, which were actually uncontrollable beasts that needed to be captured.

Requests like that could make more guilds compete over the same job, but there was a contract stating that only the one who fulfilled it would earn the full reward, while the others would profit only from the advance payment.

“What…? I didn’t know about it. Could you give me more details?
“Yes. Do you have some spare time?
“Yeah, and I can change my plans if needed.

Those were the keywords my guild members used to accept requests. Now that the request’s documentation was arranged for him, he was going to tag along with some of his comrades and depart.

It was better if requests were accepted and completed quickly, and since he had finished my training, we decided that one day was enough for him to accomplish this job. Understanding that, he consumed his drink and stood up.

“Thank you very much! Bro, this night I’ll bring some of our acquaintances!”
“Okay. Come whenever you want.”

He meant that he’d have brought the guild members to drink together before the bar was reserved.

Well, getting ready for fifty people would take some time, but this wasn’t a problem.
I didn’t mind when my comrades came to drink, I just wanted them to have a good time here.

“What are your plans for this night, Mister?”
“Probably some of my friends will come too.”
“Eheh… I see. Recently, they are showing their face more often, are they not?”

She commented with a suggestive tone of voice. Despite being a freelancer, Aileen was like a member of my guild, and Mylarka, Yuma and Cody had started to drop by every now and then.

Yuma, who couldn’t drink anything alcoholic, was impressed by the drinks I prepared for her, and ended up accepting anything I brought her.

Now that I thought about it, I had to go to Mylarka’s laboratory. Last time I brought her something was four days ago, but I had finally managed to have some free time.

“…Sorry, I’ll get out at noon.”
“As you wish. I will not move from here, so take all the time you need.”
“Sorry, it’s always like this.”
“A dedicated wife should be perfectly fine with this kind of things. Please, do not mind it too much.”

She fired such a bold statement because there weren’t many guests.
As I brought the third glass of ale she handed over to my lips, she looked at me with a sunny smile while rubbing another glass clean.


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New Game – Chapter 32

The way to open up the cage – Part 5

The streets of the slums were commonly noisier compared to the upper layers of the city.
As midnight approached, the angry roars and cackling of people within a certain bar reached the outside of the building, the same one Takumi was going to enter with a firm pace.

“Welcome! I can’t take you to a table, but feel free to take a seat wherever… Oh, Takumi?”

The girl who was moving around while holding a tray stopped to face him.

“Sorry for bothering you when you’re this busy, Lilia. I’ll sit with the others.”

“Yeah, feel free to~! But know that I’ll make you pay for the seat~!”

She showed him a broad grin and he replied with a wry one before entering in the inner part of the bar.

“Mhh? Finahhy Hakumi’sh here!”

“You sure took your sweet time. I was growing tired of waiting.”

Kunon and Karin looked at him at the same time while sitting in front of a plain table.

“I had a few things do to. Kunon, are you better now?”

“Auu behher now heh I’m eahing!”

“I can’t understand a word, but I guess you’re doing fine.”

Seeing Kunon stuffing her face, her hands full of beef skewers, Karin let out a deep sigh.

“Can we get down to business? We don’t have to worry about the bug anymore.”

“I find ironic that the slums are the most relaxing place of the whole city.”

Takumi sat at an empty chair nearby and rested his elbows on the table.

“First, great job, girls.”

When he smiled, the demi-humans smiled back and nodded.

“We’ve now confirmed that the information was leaked successfully.”

“Good grief… I feel sorry for Lise. She devoted herself to studying magic and carefully explained it to us, but it has been hard to suppress my yawns.”

“Even I had to endure losing against the Captain! But she was quite strong, so I didn’t have to act much.”

Takumi nodded placidly at their words.
They had already started executing their plan.
Seven years had passed since they joined Suzuran, and saying that they spent half of that time researching magic wasn’t an exaggeration.
Magic was the most dangerous power in the world. It was inaccessible to Takumi and was also the natural enemy of demi-humans like Kunon and Karin.
That’s why they had to prepare a way to deal with it beforehand.
Of course, Richtert’s Magic was no exception.
Still, they had to let Kiad know a few things to win the match: they were searching for a way to counter magic, since not even Kunon’s strength could deal with it, and Karin knew little of it, so she had to deepen her knowledge to cope with it.
Furthermore, Takumi didn’t have any magic power in him.

“Who’d have expected that magic tools have a mirroring magic integrated into their law formulas?”

“…Please, spare us. You suspected that from the start.”

“Well, obviously. In two years, a single holy knight, who then became Fortesea’s guest, reformed all the magic tools. Who wouldn’t become suspicious?”

He lightly tapped on his temple.

“Also, even though I’d have acted differently, they did things my way, so I could guess what they had in mind and noticed that some stuff was out of place.”

His information network was made by the slaves he sold.
As he gathered information from them, he monitored Fortesea’s movements and noticed that they were too accurate.
He then started to think about the reason why Lise would’ve had to reform the magic tools, and concluded that Fortesea wanted to use them to spy on people.

“Asking Zeiss was the right choice. He really has an eye for tools.”

“Speaking of him, hasn’t he become the disciple of a traveling merchant? Are they back yet?”

“Yeah, but they departed again. Kunon said that something felt off about magic tools, so I asked him to check if something was out of place, and he immediately noticed that there was a strange material within them.”

“Great job for remembering something that vague…”

“Information constitute one’s fortune. There’s no worthless information in the world.”

The elf was impressed to see him tapping on his temple again.

“And you learned quite a lot by prying on Lise, right, Karin?”

“Yes. Well, your guess about her situation was quite right.”

She flipped through the pages of her notebook with shining eyes.

“Fortesea holds her mother hostage, and they threatened Lise by showing her their authority, then forced her to apply a law formula on a human… This must be quite hard to bear for an eleven years old girl.”

“That just means that Lise is essential for Kiad. Binding her with collar and chains wasn’t enough for him, so he closed her away in a cage.”

“…But that doesn’t justify their choice to kill people indirectly.”

Seeing Karin so annoyed to repeatedly tap her finger on the table was a rare sight.

“I can’t believe they wrote a law formula that makes someone’s magic power go on a rampage intentionally. Also, burying in that same body the core part of a magic tool that could draw said power and crystallize it to raise its level… it’s just crazy. Honestly, the strange thing is how Lise wasn’t crushed by this.”

“Yeah… this is some serious shit.”

Remembering the child who never smiled, Takumi’s face warped… into an expression that showed clearly his intent to kill someone who wasn’t there.

“Anyway, we’ve finished our preparation. Just focus on what is waiting for you now.”

Then, he faced the wolf.

“Kunon, do you remember the match against Elsa?”

Gulp. Yes, perfectly! Now I can also distinct stuff!”

“Good. Feel free to eat whatever you want, then.”

“Really?! Yaaay! Lilia, bring a wagon of meat!”

Her eyes sparkled like stars, and she trotted to the door while screaming before making the doorbell ring repeatedly. That hungry girl alone drowned the noise of the entire bar out.

“What about you, Karin? Is there something you want? I’ll have Geiz get it for you.”

“Let’s see… since I can’t use a rifle, I’d need to use Aigle’s bow or something like that.”

“…Do you want to bring that?”

“What? I’m an elf, so why can’t I use a bow?”

“No, I mean… how can I put it… you are showy for the strangest things.”

“Perhaps I was influenced by the flashy puppeteer who is my Master.”

Takumi shrugged his shoulders at her titter.

“I believe in your abilities, no matter how you use them. Nothing will change what you can do.”

His voice was calm and majestic as he mouthed the next words.

“Kill magic in front of everyone.”


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Guild Master – Chapter 33

The peace’s restoration and the butler’s invitation

Kirsch Auguste informed the royal capital about the plan of Vinceburg, that consisted in using two other noble families as a scapegoat to protect themselves. The first to hear her was the prime minister, who tried to request an audience with the royal family before the country could be shaken by such a crisis.

Despite its prestige, Vinceburg started to rotten since Zevias’ generation, and it became evident even for other families. No matter their noble title, both Orlanz—the first ducal family—and Stollen deemed their trying to force a marriage with a princess outrageous, and none of them could stay silent in front of Jean’s debauchery.

Stollen knew that their former mansion now belonged to my guild and had already sent me a friendly letter that stated their reciprocal trust with Orlanz, who took to heart Kirsch’s case and wanted to employ her.

I believed that she could accept their request.
Even Yuma said she’d have helped her indirectly. I’m sure she’d have felt left behind if she was the only one in the expedition party who didn’t help in all this matter.

◆◇◆

Vinceburg was about to be stripped of its status, but things settled down with a generous demotion to viscounts. This outcome was decided after the confirmation that not every member of the family was helping Jean and Zevias, since some didn’t even know what they were up to.

Now that there was an empty spot to become a ducal family, the marquesses decided it was important to choose a new one. As the preparations took a long time before one was selected, the two remaining ducal families sat at the top for a while.

Luckily, when Kirsch started to work for Orlanz, her ability and loyalty for her master and country had conquered them, so she was allowed to keep her remaining subordinates under her authority.
Regarding the reward, she decided to talk it over another day. We told her that we got what we wanted, but she didn’t accept it and insisted.

And so, a week went by.

I invited the other masked saviors to Beatrice’s mansion for dinner, and before sitting at the table, I told Yuma that she didn’t have to do anything for us this time, but she was adamant on contributing to the matter.

“My way to help people who fight among each other is to lead to Heaven the souls of the dead who faced their demise in chagrin. Although such is one of us priests’ duties, if this is what would make you happy, I will gladly make you worry about me.”
“Yuma… you sure have grown. You always said that you wanted to quell all souls.”
“Well, that is what I really want… but controlling myself brought you to help me, and even provided me a place to vent.”

She smiled like only a holy maiden could do, but I perceived something immoral behind her words.

“…Did you vent a little as the masked priest?”
“Y-Yes… It has been really satisfying so far. Still, my dress suggested that I am part of the Holy Church of Albein despite my mask, so the offerings are increasing. But I cannot shake off my head what I felt when I purified the entire city… Ahh… I so want to touch your soul like that again…!”
“I-I see… feel free to do that whenever you want, as long as it’s only touching my soul.”

She blinked her cute, round eyes repeatedly while I struggled to grasp the real meaning behind her words—but my effort was fruitless.

“No. I will do it in your last moments, when your family will take care of an old you. Then, I will accompany you through the path to Heavens.”
“…A family, huh? I should choose a bride before that.”
“W-Well… y-yes. Let me inform you that my parents have high hopes for you, so… I-I might…”
“Mister Butler, Yuma, we’re waiting to take our seats for a while now. Have you done talking yet?”
“Kh! S-Sorry. Sir Butler, let us resume our talk another time…!”

Hurrying over her seat, Yuma sat nearby Mylarka, who looked at me while thinking about something, then smiled and started chatting with her friend.

“Dear guests, would you like a drink before dinner?”
“I’m fine with anything you suggest.”
“Me too! Yuma, you wanna some milk? Can’t break your taboo today, right?”
“Yes, anything but alcoholic drinks will be good for me.”
“I guess I will… have the usual, then.”

The last one talking was Cody, who wore plain clothes and sat nearby Aileen.
He almost asked me directly how he should dress, since he wasn’t the kind of person who cared about clothes, so I introduced him to a tailor I knew.

I wondered if days like that would repeat in the future.

In front of me were the few friends I could talk to sincerely. I didn’t want to lose them, but that was exactly why I wondered: was it better to keep denying what I saw?

Would Cody forgive me if I told him… if I told her what I knew?

Cordelia Blancneige was a name that appeared in the birth records of her hometown.

Thanks to my information network, I didn’t even have to personally move to search for it. I never wanted to pry in my friends’ circumstances, and that was the first time I heard about her birthplace.

Although she kept her brown hair short, sometimes I noticed it was growing longer, and both in our journey and when we sat nearby drinking, I wondered if she really was a girl.

When that happened, I always denied the truth: she couldn’t be a girl, and if I asked her directly, I would’ve lost her trust.

Probably, what I wanted to do would’ve made her angry and tore our relationship apart.

Still, until then I wanted her happiness to last as much as possible, even though she had to keep lying about herself. I wanted to make her relax.

“Let me show you my gratitude for what you did by offering you a special dinner. Sir Cody, would you mind accepting a drink of my suggestion?”
“…? Yes, feel free to.”

I felt my heart skipping a beat.
Even if I kept feigning ignorance while shrugging it off like a hallucination from an inebriated dream, our relationship wouldn’t change.

I knew that it was wrong… it was the first time I was so afraid of something.
I was glad when Cody, a regular, dropped by my bar.

No matter the gender, my feelings would’ve been the same.

“If you will excuse me, I shall present you your drinks.”

Beatrice entered the room while pushing a wagon, over which four glasses were filled with colorful liquid, one for each of our guests: red for Mylarka, blue for Aileen, white for Yuma, and yellow for Cody.

“This is called Rainbow drops, an original blend of Silver Aquarius.”

Those drinks changed their color into one of the rainbow’s when I added a drop of a special liquid. The original base is made of brandy, liqueur or fruit juice. It already tasted really good, but after I added that drop, the taste was greatly enhanced.

“…Dick, is this…?”

Cody called my name despite my butler’s appearance, as if he didn’t care about it.

Without saying a word, I signaled Beatrice to place the glasses, filled with see-through, colored liquid, in front of them.

I was sure that Cody would have ordered an ale, since I told her that was a common order for male guests, and that’s what she kept ordering.

She probably didn’t want to look effeminate… but her choice was only half right.

She was playing the part only to hide her real gender from me.

That’s why I had to make her stop in a way that words couldn’t express.

“…I mean, probably I worded it poorly, but I would not ask for anything other than rum or ale… with only a few exceptions.”
“This is no exception. I am sure I was not tricked by my imagination.”

Mylarka, Yuma and Aileen’s faces twitched. They couldn’t believe me… but their reaction was normal.

I pretended to be ignorant for five long years until this moment.

Cody tried to say something, and a flash of anger lit her eyes, but…

“…I must question you later. Know that this will cost you.”
“As you wish. Still, there was no error in my preparation. If it is not to your taste, I beg you to punish me at your discretion.”

I bowed deeply while preparing myself for Cody to snap at me.

But the only thing that leaked from her lips the next moment was a sigh.

“…I will ask you what the meaning of this is later, since I am probably the one that needs to prepare.”

As I raised my head, the four girls’ gaze darted on me.
They weren’t looking at me with blaming eyes, but understanding and perceptive ones.

“Why did you choose today, and since when have you known it… I’d love to ask you a lot of things, but I will contain myself out of respect for Cody.”
“I am obliged, Lady Mylarka.”
“Eh? You wanna keep that butler facade? Dick, you’re just ashamed of talking honestly with Cody, ain’t you?”
“…Actually, I do not mind it, as I did not in the past, and I never will…”

Hearing that, Cody flushed up to her ears.
I saw her blushing like that only when I asked her, during our expedition, to take a bath together.

“Thing is that now you lost a male friend, Dick.”
“N-No? Feel free to treat me like a guy, otherwise… i-it will be a problem…”
“Guess you thought pretty much ’bout it huh? Anyways, tonight we driiink~!”
“F-Forgive my rudeness. I appreciate your cordiality, Sir Butler, but alcohol is a bit too much for me…”
“Lady Yuma, although I prepared your drink like the others, yours is alcohol-free, so do not worry.”
“How thoughtful of my Master… despite being alcohol-free, you invented a way to create a flavor that emulates alcoholic drinks. I would love to know more of your recipes periodically…”

Beatrice was now used to be this mansion’s landlord, but if she wanted to, I could drop by from time to time.

Still, the four sat at the table stared daggers at her… her invitation was a subtle way to ask for magic power to preserve her physical form, which I had to provide. But I wouldn’t have done it each time I was here, and neither was she hoping for that.

I felt Yuma and Cody, whose face was still red but preserved her usual smile, looking at me differently.

“We should deal with the flames of jealousy from now on, are we not? This will be hard for everybody.”
“W-Well, we cannot help it. Dick is not self-conscious in the slightest.”
“That’s damn true. He’s the type you must bait, otherwise you can’t pull it. There’s some crazy fishing to do for him, huh?”
“Gh… I am only a masked butler…”
“And I am a masked priestess. If I should express it in a few words, I would be glad if you could look more after me.”

Yuma dropped a bomb on me… but that made everyone smile.
She’s always been like that, like she wasn’t part of this world, but her assertion proved the opposite.

“Dick, do you remember our promise? You’re not getting away easily if you don’t.”
“Ah, so this job was done okay? Why next time don’t we all eat at my house? Feel free to bring Verlaine witcha.”
“Then, since you always postpone it… I want you to spar a little with me.”

They all said what they wanted, and although I only wanted to drink at my bar, they didn’t seem to let me.

“Anyhow, Dick… or rather, Sir Masked Butler, I beg you to start our toast.”
“Why are you all…? I mean, yes, I sure will. My dear guests, raise your glasses… cheers!”
“Cheers!”

The members of the expedition party, which now became the masked saviors, rose their voices in unison.

Nothing had changed from then.

I didn’t set an ending time for our party, so the girls had time to eat until they were stuffed, talk and appreciate each other for some time.

The next day, I’d have been back to my normal life, so I really wanted to enjoy those peaceful moments.

“Sir Butler, what is this drink?”
“Would you teach us how to prepare them? I always found unfair that you know how to do so many things.”
“Ya know, he teaches by making others watch him, so we better pay attention.”
“Uhm… I’m interested in seeing how to prepare this. Show me, Butler.”
“Well, if I may…”

Beatrice grabbed the shaker and then passed it to me. It was a peculiar object that couldn’t be found in the capital’s bars, and also what I had used to prepare those drinks. I was deeply interested in how other countries prepared them, so I decided to buy one.

I put into it the ingredients and started to shake, then poured the solution into a glass, enjoying the curious stares of my beloved friends who seemed to look at a sparkling treasure.


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