Nekomimi Neko monster introduction:
[Horned Paon]: A variant of the elephant model monster, Paon, that inhabits the snow field areas.
Its main attack method is to spit out snow from its long nose which has a stun effect.
It has strange popularity in videos and fan creations, and its frequency of appearance matches that of the Fragment of the Evil God.
Every time I took a bite of the food Leila put work into, she would say: ‘U-Uuh, so, how was the taste? I wanted Souma to eat it, thinking only of you, and made it only for your sake. I-If there’s anything that’s not to your liking, I will fix it, and if you ask for anything…anything…uhm…Souma? Why aren’t you saying anything? I-I see. I-I am sorry. Something like this i-isn’t tasty, right? Something made by someone like me would be no good at all, right? I will throw everything away! I have no choice but to remake every—it is tasty? Y-Yay! I am so happy! Then, I will go and make a hundred extra of this, okay?!! Eh, r-really? G-Got it. If you say so, Souma. Ah, then, try eating this one here. A-Aaahn, j-just kidding… S-Sorry. I am sorry. That was dirty, right? I-I should know my pl—ah! Ehehehe. Thanks… Uuh, and so, how was the taste?’. After a forced loop event that was close to a mental attack, I was now completely stuffed, and when I said I was going to take a bath and stood up from my seat…
Ringo stood up naturally as if her turn had come.
When I go take a bath, I normally ask Ringo to keep watch so that I don’t die from drowning.
However, circumstances are different this time around.
“Ah, sorry, Ringo. I have a companion today.” (Souma)
Ringo tilted her head in wonder silently, and pointed at a certain someone.
“Today, Sazan is going to be accompanying me. Isn’t that right, Saza—hm?” (Souma)
The reason the last part was a question was because Sazan was concentrating on reading a book and seemed to not hear what I said.
Moreover, he is not reading just any random book…
“Magic section execution…effective time expansion…arrange incantation…boost mana…” (Sazan)
Could this possibly be that?
The secret technique of loners to appeal to your surroundings that you are concentrating on something complicated in order to avoid speaking to others?!
Moreover, he is even adding the buff of mumbling nonsense as if the person himself is not aware of it in order to make it creepier.
For a master like Sazan (in loner terms), it wouldn’t be strange for him to know this technique, but him using this technique at this moment must mean that he really doesn’t want to take a bath with me.
“Oi, Sazan, we are taking a bath!” (Souma)
I placed a hand on Sazan’s shoulder and he quivered. After a few seconds, he finally understood what I said, and he nodded several times in a strangely uneasy way.
“L-Leave it to me! It will be okay. I am a prodigy after all!!” (Sazan)
Prodigies have nothing to do with taking a bath, but it is great to see that it is not like he doesn’t have any intentions of taking one.
When I told him we were going and had him stand up, someone spoke to me from the back.
“That’s rare. To think you would proactively try to get involved with Sazan. What brought this on?” (Mitsuki)
When I looked back, Mitsuki was shaking her cat ears in curiosity while watching us.
I was about to tell her for a second that we promised to take a bath together, but I rethought it just barely in time.
I glanced at Leila.
Leila at a glance seemed like she was concentrating on cleaning up the dishes, but the corner of her eyes were directing a sharp gaze.
Maybe because I went to the Mage Guild and worried her before, Leila has been emotionally unstable for a while now.
Or more like, I feel like I have flipped her yandere switch at some point in time.
Leila in her yandere state knows no boundaries for good or for bad.
The current Leila wouldn’t care if it is an hetero male or a plushie, she gives up the atmosphere that she would still kill them in one clean stab.
“Sazan destroyed Dark Schne—the Fingerless Gloves, you know. I had him tag along with me as a bit of a punishment.” (Souma)
“I see. So that’s how it is.” (Mitsuki)
Mitsuki made a dubious look as if she had been convinced and as if she had not.
It would trouble me if she were to pursue the topic.
“I-In that case, I can take—” (Leila)
Leila was about to say something, but before she could…
“Come on now, Sazan! Give the book a break and let’s get going!” (Souma)
“Camouflage only for visual information…target an individual through mana quality…tie it up with repetition and—wa! S-Stop it! Don’t pull! Just a bit more…just a bit more…!” (Sazan)
“Just come already!” (Souma)
I forcefully made Sazan, who was still mumbling, stand, and pulled him all the way to the dressing room.
And so, we reached the phase where we were entering the bath, but…Sazan began complaining at the last moment.
“I-I will come in later!” (Sazan)
I let out a displeased tone, and Sazan looked scared, but he didn’t bend here.
“I-I didn’t say I won’t be going together with you. I will finish reading after a bit more!” (Sazan)
“Finish reading? Are you talking about that book?” (Souma)
Sazan claimed this, but he is still half in his book.
I doubt he would finish reading this in just a few minutes.
(…Oh well.) (Souma)
It is not like I wanted to take a bath with Sazan real bad anyways.
If he runs away, that’s all, so I decided to yield here.
“…You will really come in later, right?” (Souma)
“Of course! Right, I will promise on the heirloom of mine lineage, the Soul Bracelet!” (Sazan)
“No, I’ve got no idea what’s that.” (Souma)
I swept away what Sazan was saying all high-strung, and decided to enter first.
By the way, Sazan faced the other way and was reading his book single-mindedly while I was taking off my clothes.
There was no need, but I washed my body, and sunk my body into the big bathtub.
Of course, I would die if I sunk all the way to my face, so I left it as if it were a normal bathtub: only until the shoulders.
It would be about time for Sazan to come.
Well, if his words just now were not a lie, that is.
(…This is bad. I am beginning to get nervous.) (Souma)
Why for Sazan of all people? -is what I thought, but now that I think about it, I haven’t taken a bath together with someone since middle school or high school, or maybe a field trip.
Should I have readied a towel? But it might not be good to bring in towels when going into the bathtub in this world…is the pointless thing I was thinking about, when…
I heard the door open.
And from the other side, there’s Sazan standing there.
That figure of his was more confident than I imagined, and without any shame, his body was wrapped with a black cloak—wait…
Even if it is Sazan, I didn’t think he would go as far as coming into the bath with clothes.
No, there was apparently a custom of taking a bath with clothes when it was a game, but at the very least, my comrades should be taking their clothes off when taking a bath.
Ina’s clothes were not wet at all when she just finished bathing after all.
He asked me nervously.
“D-Do I really have to take off my clothes?” (Sazan)
If he were to enter with a cloak like that, I wouldn’t be able to relax.
“T-The staff, too?” (Sazan)
“B-But a staff is the next most important thing for a mage, and without this, the control of the spell—” (Sazan)
“What is it you intend to do in the bathtub?” (Souma)
When I said this strongly, Sazan looked dejected for a moment there, but he raised his face soon after.
“Got it. Wait for a bit.” (Sazan)
He looked at me with a decisive look.
The face of a man that has resolved himself.
…Man, we are simply taking a bath together.
Just when I was relaxed, soaking in the warm water…
I got startled at the door of the bath being open with a loud noise.
I speak in the direction of the door with the intention of hiding my shame here and…
“Oi, you are late, Saza—huh?” (Souma)
The moment I saw Sazan, I opened my mouth wide reflexively.
It is because Sazan’s mask…was still on.
Even though he is completely naked, his mask alone was still obstinately on.
But what bothers me most is what lies below.
At the crotch of Sazan standing with arms crossed…
—An abnormally big Horned Paon (the head) had its nose raised high.
“Eh? Wa, eh?!” (Souma)
This abnormality is G rank.
I was terribly confused, witnessing what I can only describe as a monstrosity.
(Wait! Wait wait wait!) (Souma)
Let’s calm down here.
Even if it is big, it is simply compared to the physique of Sazan. It is obviously smaller than a Horned Paon.
Wait, that’s not it.
But then what is it?
This is not about ‘hey, I have a monster on my crotch’.
There’s a limit to having a monster.
(C-Calm down. Calm down, me!) (Souma)
I shook my head and tried to somehow pull back the reins of my thoughts.
But is something like this…really possible?
Is this how a fantasy world works?
Could it be that, because of the half-assed mental setting of the Nekomimi Neko developers, Sazan ended up having to shoulder such a piece of work?
“W-What? D-Don’t stare so much.” (Sazan)
It seems like I have been staring at the Horned Paon of Sazan.
Sazan bent his upper body as if covering his body.
But…there’s something below you have to hide first!!
Is what I wanted to shout, but I couldn’t come out strongly at Sazan.
My pure honest thoughts here are: ‘What’s that? That’s scary’.
But Sazan was more flustered than that.
Of course he would be hesitant to take a bath with someone when packing such a beast.
Or more like, he might have even ended up being bullied in his childhood if something like this was witnessed. There’s plenty of possibility that that’s how he ended up becoming a chuunibyou.
“N-Now, come in.” (Souma)
I made a wry smile and invited Sazan.
…That was my intention, but I have no confidence that I actually managed to make a smile there.
“H-Hmph! Just what I wanted.” (Sazan)
Sazan must be nervous too, he gave a weird response and hesitantly moved forward.
I actually wanted to tell him to wash his body first, but I don’t have the energy to.
Sazan’s breathing was rough and was practically showing off his Horned Paon at this point, moreover, entering the bathtub with his arms still crossed.
The moment his body sank into the warm water, I ended up getting a close look at the Horned Paon of Sazan.
…Sazan-senpai is seriously a monster tamer.
“N-Nice water, right?” (Sazan)
Sazan sank all the way to the shoulders and made that awkward comment, and I answered awkwardly, too.
Or more like, why is he not uncrossing his arms even in the water?
According to the psychology of it, bringing your arms up to protect the front of your body is a show of caution, but isn’t he a bit too tense here?
A hard to describe tense atmosphere surrounded us for a while, but a human can’t stay tense forever.
As time passed, we got a bit more leeway to think about stuff, so even if Sazan didn’t undo his crossed arms, his attitude has softened a bit.
“At any rate, you really are not taking your mask off, huh.” (Souma)
I brought this topic out with a bit of friendliness to it, and Sazan snorted from within the mask as usual.
“Hmph! This mask is a sacred treasure of mine family. It can’t be taken off easily just for a mere bath.” (Sazan)
“Didn’t you say before that the bracelet was the treasure of your family?” (Souma)
When I pointed this out, Sazan refuted with a bright red face.
“B-Both of them! Both of them are treasures of my family. This mask is a sacred treasure, and this bracelet is a treasure tool!
T-That’s why both are things that I can’t take off, ever!
See, I have brought the bracelet with me, too!” (Sazan)
Sazan skilfully took out his wrist from the water with his arms still crossed and showed it to me.
I didn’t notice because of the impact of the Horned Paon, but he also had the bracelet, huh.
Or more like…
“You don’t have it on.” (Souma)
“T-That’s because…it is okay to h-hold it in my hand…” (Sazan)
“Then, shouldn’t it be alright to take off the mask, too?” (Souma)
I go for a consecutive attack a bit teasingly.
“That’s…if I take this off, I won’t be able to stay as myself…” (Sazan)
He muttered this in a serious tone.
It is an unexpected reaction, but that’s something I can’t ignore.
“You can’t stay as yourself…?” (Souma)
I tried to pursue this and…
“Wa?! T-That’s not…! I-It is not like that!!” (Sazan)
Sazan was splashing around all flustered with his arms still crossed.
…Oi, stop that.
The Horned Paon is rampaging inside the water.
“M-More importantly, you told me, right?! That you have business with me! W-What business do you have?!” (Sazan)
I couldn’t speak for a moment there.
I actually wanted to speak to him for a bit more, and bring this out after we mellowed out, but it can’t be helped.
I hesitantly spoke.
“I have a request. I want to search for an offensive spell book together with you.” (Souma)
“Offensive spell? You need something like that even though you defeated the Demon Lord?” (Sazan)
“…That’s not it. It is exactly because I have defeated the Demon Lord.” (Souma)
I hesitated on whether to say the next words.
If I am to open this up to someone, Sazan would be the most suitable.
The one with the least connection with me in the party, and the one who needs me the least is Sazan.
That’s why I looked straight into the eyes of Sazan inside the mask, and said this clearly.
“…I am thinking of going back to my world.” (Souma)
The moment I said this, sound disappeared from the world for a moment and…
The bracelet in the hand of Sazan fell and made an unexpectedly loud sound.
As if that served as the switch, the world resumed moving. Sazan turned his back towards me and began searching for the bracelet that had fallen into the water.
Sazan speaks in a low volume while his back still faces me.
“I-I see. So you are leaving. Of course you would! You did say you are not originally from this world after all! I-I got it. I will also help out!
…Haha! I-I get it! It is okay, I get it!” (Sazan)
The trembling voice of Sazan echoed, and for some reason, the search for the bracelet that had fallen into the transparent warm water didn’t end for a while.
Author: “As if I can stay in this world! I will return to Monster Hunter!”
And so, what comes next is the Return Arc.
I plan on delivering a heated story with intensity as if blasting fire magic onto the comments section.