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—It has been discovered that there’s a big misunderstanding here.
I thought Mitsuki had understood my plan and had explained it to everyone, but there was an unbelievably relay mistake.
Actually, Mitsuki misunderstood my plan as being ‘gather the equipment at the Seal Space, bait the Evil God Fragment there, and in that open time, strengthen our forces at the entrance, and defeat the Evil God with the power of the adventurers and knights.
No, it is true that while I was explaining the plan ‘gather the equipment into the Seal Space’ and ‘I need it to buy time’, Mitsuki said ‘I understand the plan’ and ran off, but I didn’t confirm whether she really understood the plan.
Even when I felt that perceptiveness was a bit off, I thought ‘wow, this must be what it feels to be of one mind!’ and didn’t pay it much mind.
But to think she would misunderstand it in that fashion.
I won’t say there was no room for misunderstanding, but for her to reach that conclusion there. That’s a battle junkie for ya.
She is a fighter to the core.
Normally when gathering equipment, the only possibility would be to have the Yellow Slimes eat it and have them in turn eat the Evil God.
As expected of the Hisame family. Their way of thinking is a notch different from the norm.
In that case, everyone who heard the explanation of Mitsuki must have misunderstood my plan too.
In other words, everyone gathered here intended to fight the Evil God Fragment.
No wonder they were listening so intently when I was talking of the countermeasures in the case the Evil God came out.
I think about it for a bit.
If Yellow Slimes come out instead when I am completely expecting the fragment…
Yeah, I would be a bit surprised.
Also, thanks to the misunderstanding being resolved, I now understand the anger of Ringo even more.
In the eyes of Ringo, not only did I do something while keeping it a secret from everyone, but I also put myself in danger in order to defeat those Yellow Slimes.
Ringo is for some reason more sensitive to dangers on me, so that must have been a situation she couldn’t ignore.
No, everyone was seriously listening to the countermeasures for the case when the Evil God came out, but when it came to the countermeasures for the Yellow Slimes, they weren’t listening at all, so I thought for sure that they were throwing all the responsibility to me there.
Well, because of that misunderstanding, I was questioned heavily by the people that remained on the surface when we came out.
It couldn’t be helped, so I gave them a lecture of the circumstances until now and the danger of the Yellows Slimes and the way of defeating them while at it, but…
“That was pointlessly tiring…” (Souma)
First, about the knights. It seems like they still think I am a cultist. Some of them misunderstood that the Yellow Slimes are like my underlings, so my words didn’t get to them that well.
And as for the adventurers, honestly speaking, there’s a lot of muscle-brains there.
There were a whole lot of people who couldn’t keep up with too complicated talks.
And when it came to the Slime Mold Radial Extermination that even Sazan understands, I did my best to explain it, but it didn’t get through well.
I thought ‘are they below Sazan?’, but Sazan himself seems to be standing there spaced out, and didn’t seem to be listening, so you could say they were still better.
Well, it seems it was worth the pain since the Yellow Slimes countermeasures must have been transmitted to a good number of people, so I doubt the world will be destroyed by Yellow Slimes from here on.
That was my only consolation as I ended the long explanation.
There were a lot of miscalculations, but with this, it should be okay to consider the quest ‘Sacrifice Dungeon’ having been finished.
“Now then, next…” (Souma)
We simply have to accomplish the last objective.
“Hey there, good work.”
When I approached Alex and his party, the very first one to speak to us was Raiden.
“I don’t really get it, but that’s as expected! Well, it doesn’t even reach the toes of my splendorous accomplishments as a hero though, but I think you did pretty well for a commoner. Ahahahahahaha!” (Alex)
Alex was pointlessly in a good mood despite not doing anything.
“Defeating the Evil God. Isn’t that impressive! With this, I will be able to spend a sweet time with Abel-chan and the others without worries… Ufufu, actually, I have made prior arrangements to meet them privately just a few moments ago.” (Baccarat)
I don’t want to understand what Baccarat means here, but he gave me words resembling a congratulations.
But Sazan alone seems to be looking the other way.
Well, his attitude being bad is as usual, but this time around, it would be troubling if he doesn’t listen to me.
I approached him without a choice and tried to talk to him.
“Hey, Saza—” (Souma)
“Hm, looks like you defeated the Evil God.” (Sazan)
He instead spoke to me with a curt tone, and that surprised me a bit.
I answered while confused.
“No, I wasn’t the one who dealt the finishing blow, and that was probably a pretty small fragment…” (Souma)
“The small details don’t matter. Anyways, you defeated it, right?” (Sazan)
If he puts it that way, it would be strange to deny it.
I simply nodded.
When I did, Sazan finally faced this way with his face covered with a mask.
“…Alright. I will acknowledge you as my rival.” (Sazan)
I felt like time stopped there.
But that was of course my own perception.
Time was moving on as normal, and there was Sazan who was obviously making a smug face below that mask.
“Don’t make me say it more than once. I am telling you I will be making you my rival. Close that silly mouth of yours and go ahead and show that overflowing honor with all your limbs.” (Sazan)
—It is this.
This man that is pointlessly haughty and arrogant is Sazan.
“Well, thanks. But sorry, I have something more important to ask you about.” (Souma)
I held back my rising headache and somehow pushed that out.
“Hmph, what is it?” (Sazan)
“I am searching for a certain spell. The offensive spell, Stardust Flare. I want your cooperation in obtaining that.” (Souma)
Stardust Flare is one of the strongest spells that can only be learned with the event of Sazan.
Of course, I won’t be able to achieve much power since I am not a mage job, but the effect of the spell or the AOE has nothing to do with how strong your magic power is.
The only thing that magic power decides is the damage of it, and any other factors are not affected no matter who uses it.
That said, I don’t think Sazan will accept this proposal.
Most character events require you to have their affection on a certain threshold or they won’t be unlocked, and that goes the same for this Stardust Flare related event.
I was forced to bring Sazan around as a comrade in order to learn this, so there’s no doubt about it.
This world ignores the rules of the game to a certain degree, and it seems the affection rate changes depending on the emotions of the person themself, but I doubt he has taken a liking to me to the point that the character event will happen.
But even if I know it will be refused, if I speak about it beforehand like this, there’s the possibility of negotiati—
“Got it.” (Sazan)
“Wa?! It is okay?!” (Souma)
I got an unexpected answer and ended up getting flustered.
Sazan looked at me with suspicious eyes below the mask.
“Complaining even though I accepted. What a weird guy you are. I am the type that doesn’t like creating debts with others, you see. It can’t be helped, so I will listen to that request of yours.” (Sazan)
“Kuh! …Thanks.” (Souma)
The way he put it annoyed me, but I somehow managed to endure it.
I at least thank him.
When I did, Sazan got even more cocky.
“Hmph, I am the one that had his name reverberate through the whole world as the number one mage, you know? Being able to order someone like that; you really are a lucky one. Right, if you want to become my disciple—!” (Sazan)
Sazan was speaking with his haughty tone, but he suddenly stopped talking.
“Yes yes, aren’t chu amashing~. It is about time you close your mouth and head over here, okay~?”
The one who said this behind Sazan was Baccarat.
Baccarat grabbed the back collar of Sazan and picked him up.
“S-Stop it! D-Don’t touch my noble cloak with your dirty ha—” (Sazan)
“Hah? What did you say about my hands?” (Baccarat)
“Hiiiiih! I-It is nothing! Nothing!” (Sazan)
They were having that exchange while Baccarat carried off Sazan faraway.
That looked like the mother carrying off her kitten.
I was watching that spaced out, but…
“Sorry, he doesn’t seem to know self-control, you see. If he troubled you in some way, I apologize in his stead.” (Raiden)
This time it was Raiden who showed up and lowered his head to me. I finally came back to my senses there.
“No, it is fine. I don’t mind it.” (Souma)
You could even say that was subdued for Sazan standards.
To the point that I am even worried if he is not feeling well.
“I am grateful that you say that.” (Raiden)
Raiden laughs with a face that still has a bit of bitterness remaining.
I think he is having it rough but…
(Well, it is a reward for masochists.) (Souma)
It is not something for me to be worried about.
Rather, it is pretty friendly of him to follow-up for Sazan.
You could say it is great that he is properly meshing in with his party.
“Well, leaving aside Sazan, this is the second time you have saved me.” (Raiden)
“Hm? Aah, well, you could say that.” (Souma)
Speaking of which, I have helped Raiden out at the time with the Butcher too.
No, Raiden got in danger because we brought out the Butcher, so I simply saved Raiden who was trying to stop it.
While I was feeling nostalgic remembering that…
“…Hey, it may be questionable to say this when I was the one being saved, but don’t get too ahead of yourself, okay?” (Raiden)
My body froze at the unexpected words.
Raiden muttered ‘I’m no good at this though’ as he continued speaking.
“Seeing you so desperately trying to save those 3 and the child called Lipha, it made me a bit uneasy, you see. In the first place, this time’s matter had nothing to do with you.” (Raiden)
“Aah, well, that’s true…” (Souma)
I actually have knowledge that there will be a Game Over if you fail this quest though.
When taking that into account, you can’t really say it has nothing to do with me, but it is true that, from an outside perspective, it must look like I am a busybody for sticking my head into this quest.
I made a complicated expression, and Raiden hurriedly waved his hand.
“Ah, no, that in itself is fine. The problem is that you are being way too desperate. Even you wouldn’t be able to save everyone involved, right? That’s why, I was worried that you would be crushed if something like that were to happen.” (Raiden)
When he told me that, the words of Mitsuki replayed in my head.
—“You get way into the people that have gotten involved with you.”
Maybe that’s what she meant with this.
Even if I have the game knowledge, it is not like I can solve the troubles of all the people I meet and assure their safety.
Characters have free will, and a number of quests are now moving on their own, so it is more so the case.
For example; I have no connection at all with Lipha in this world.
But if Lipha had been sacrificed exactly as scripted in the game, what would have happened to me?
Mitsuki must have been worried about that.
“I don’t really mind you saving others.
But you must not get too worked up about it.
You must know how to draw lines or you might be the next one dying.” (Raiden)
I could tell my face stiffened there.
Raiden made an apologetic look after seeing my face, but he continued speaking clearly.
“At the very least, there’s nothing you can do about events that are already too late by the time you learn about it, or things that happened faraway.
It is a tough pill to swallow, but there’s no human that can live without losing something.
There’s also situations where you can’t overcome them without sacrifices.
For the sake of those moments, you must make amends inside yourself, or like, you must decide on your priorities at least.” (Raiden)
(Priorities, huh…) (Souma)
Raiden is a hopeless masochist, but I thanked him for the advice, and returned to my comrades.
Noticing me, the first one to come running to me was Ringo who was talking to Lipha. The Bear was pointlessly hitting my shoulder, Maki was making a ruckus, and Mitsuki’s cat ears were twitching.
(For me, these people are my most important friends.) (Souma)
I think something that obvious at this point in time.
Ringo worries about me more than I myself do, even Mitsuki too despite not showing it. I was reminded that those harsh words of hers are because she is worried about me.
There’s the Bear who is always consoling me, and there’s Maki who can share talks about our original world.
I once again felt that I am blessed with good friends.
Thinking that, I also felt that I should have them take shape.
It is a bit embarrassing, but it should be fine for there to be those occasions.
I scratched my cheek while facing Ringo first.
“Ringo, uhm, sorry about before. Those kinds of dangerous things…uuh, I will try my best to not do them.” (Souma)
I lowered my head with somewhat indecisive words.
The Bear patted my shoulder.
It probably means that she forgives me.
When I smiled at Ringo, Ringo averted her gaze as if a bit embarrassed.
While thinking I have seen something rare there, I moved my gaze to the Bear riding my shoulder.
My eyes made contact with the Bear’s. It crossed its arms as if covering its body and faced back as if curling up…
“No, you don’t need to pull that again.” (Souma)
It must be the joke of that time when I saw it “changing” at the Hisame Dojo.
It is bringing out quite the nostalgic event.
I end up wanting to retort when talking with the Bear, so I feel like I haven’t properly thanked the Bear despite having been helped out quite a good number of times.
Resolving myself here, I lowered my head.
“Bear, uhm…thanks for everything. Today as well, no, not only today, you are always helping me out. I am counting on you from here on too.” (Souma)
I said this and raised my head.
The Bear answered me with that smile that spoke more than a thousand words.
This guy is the same as always, and that’s what makes it reliable.
The next one is Maki.
Maki looked at me with a face filled with expectation, so I said with a face as serious as possible.
“The Knight Order behind is on standby, so shouldn’t it be about time for you to return to the castle?” (Souma)
The knights behind move at the same time as I said this.
“Now, Princess-sama, your business should have finished already. Let’s go back.”
“The King and Queen must be worried. Now now!”
Maki was taken away by the knights.
“Eh? Wait, eeeeh?! I am the only one being treated like this?! S-Soumaaaa!!” (Maki)
Maki was flailing her arms while asking for help.
I saw her off with a smile.
After confirming that Maki was pushed inside the carriage of the Knight Order…
“Ah, crap…” (Souma)
I noticed that we haven’t coordinated a means of contact.
If only I readied a Communication Ring like the one I gave to Train-chan before, but it seems like I don’t have any means of contacting her aside from going to the castle again.
Oh well, that’s fine.
The suspicions that I am a cultist should have been cleared with this, so I should be able to manage somehow if I make a request at the castle.
More importantly, right now…
I face Mitsuki at the end.
She has her usual expressionless face, but I see her cat ears alone are moving slightly as if nervous, and thought that’s just like her.
What I want to say to Mitsuki is also obvious.
“I was also told by Raiden to not get too into other people. I think I now understand what you were worried about, Mitsuki.” (Souma)
“…I see.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki’s cat ears turned serious at my words.
She slightly averted her gaze from me and muttered this in a low voice.
“It is not like I am an emotionless person. I feel pain when my comrades get injured, and if a friend dies, I will also be saddened. Me journeying alone isn’t unrelated to this.” (Mitsuki)
I understand that sentiment.
Just like how I left Train-chan in Lamurick, Mitsuki knew the dangers of her own journey, and didn’t make any companions the whole time.
“You are the first person I have found that can stand side by side with me. You are a truly truly important companion of mine.” (Mitsuki)
Her face is expressionless, but I can feel the deep affection of Mitsuki through her words and her cat ears, and I could feel my chest burning hotter.
“Speaking of which, you have become a temporary companion of mine, right? There were perplexing moments, but I already can’t think of traveling without you, Mitsuki.” (Souma)
I look at Mitsuki straight on and form words that can best express my emotions.
“I also consider you as a precious comrade of mine, Mitsuki. If possible, please continue—” (Souma)
For some reason, Mitsuki raised her voice there and closed the distance with incredible speed as she grabbed my shoulders.
“Eh, Mitsuki?!” (Souma)
She is putting so much strength here, it honestly hurts.
Or more like, she is a bit too excited here, it is a bit scary.
But Mitsuki doesn’t seem to notice that state of mine and she looks at me with swirling eyes like those of a hunter aiming at its prey, with her usual calm attitude gone somewhere.
“T-Then this is a good chance! To celebrate me becoming an official member, how about going together with me to the mirage cave?!” (Mitsuki)
Seeing the approaching Mitsuki and her cat ears flapping at astounding speed on top of her head, I…
I thought cats really are hunters.