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Using carriages, the distance between Brook Town and the Neutral Commercial City; Fhuren, was six days of travel.
They moved before sunrise and prepared to camp before sunset. This has already repeated for three days. Hajime and his party were three days away from Fhuren. Only half the travel distance remained. So far no incidents had occurred during their journey. Even though Hajime and his party were in charge of the rear, it was truly peaceful.
Even today, nothing special happened as they prepared to camp. Regarding meals, the adventurers were eating by themselves. They had to eat while minding their surroundings, that’s why, as escorts they couldn’t settle down when eating together. It also seemed to be the rule to eat on their own. Additionally, when on a mission, the adventurers only eat cruel, simple meals. In a way, preparing tasty meals would only increase their luggage, and would disturb them in emergency situations. Because of that, it became a theory that after they’ve arrived at a town they would eat tasty meals until their stomachs were full, as their reward.
That story was something Hajime and his party heard from the adventurers when they ate meals on the second day. Hajime and his party had prepared warm bread soaked in luxurious mock stew to eat.
“Gah—, good! It is truly delicious~, just as expected of Shia-chan! Mou, I don’t care if you’re a demi-human anymore, so will you be my wife?”
“Gluck gluck, gulp, puhah, *******, don’t just run your mouth! Shia-chan is my wife!”
“Hah, just what is a small dirty pig-like man like you trying to say? Know your place. By the way Shia-chan, how about a meal with me after we arrive at the town? Of course, it’ll be my treat.”
“Th-Then, I’ll take Yue-chan! Yue-chan, have a meal with me!”
“Yue-chan’s spoon… … Haa, haa.”
The adventurers kept eating the mock stew made by Shia, saying it was delicious. On the first day, these guys were eating dried meat with things similar to camping goods when, Hajime and his party started to cook next to them, using ingredients and tableware taken out from “Treasure Box”, just as usual. The adventurers were attracted by the delicious drifting aromas. Looking around, they saw Hajime and his party eating the hot meal while blowing on it, nearby. It became a situation where all of the other adventurers stared at them with blood-shot eyes and drooling mouths. Shia who felt that they were truly pitiful proposed to share their meals, resulting in the current situation.
In the beginning, even in front of these starving dogs, Hajime continued to calmly eat his meal. Naturally, he didn’t intend to share at all. However, because Shia took over the job of preparing the meals when they camp, he had to rely on her to make delicious meals. It was not like Hajime and Yue were incapable of cooking anything, but the taste would be flat. Hajime was only capable of making manly dishes while Yue was inexperienced, being a former noble. That’s why, it was not an easy thing for Hajime to refuse Shia’s, who was able to cook delicious meals, proposal to share.
From then on, although at first the adventurers that crowded like hyena during meals were grateful, they started to get carried away and jokingly tried to persuade Shia and Yue.
Toward the adventurers who made such a ruckus, Hajime silently used “Pressure”. Although their bodies should have been warmed up by the hot mock stew, the adventurers immediately felt the chill and could only stand still with pale expressions. Hajime swallowed the meat inside his mouth and glanced at the mock stew while slowly letting out a whisper. Even so his voice could be clearly heard by everyone.
“So? Having filled your belly, who’s the guy that wants to be thrown?”
“””””I am sorry for getting carried away.”””””
The adventurers apologized while prostrating in splendid harmony and synchronization. Although these guys were senior and veteran adventurers compared to Hajime, they had no dignity at all. Even though there was also the “Pressure” that Hajime used, it wasn’t like they would go against Hajime, because they knew what happened in Brook town.
“Mou, Hajime-san. Since it’s finally time for a meal, a little ruckus is fine. A-Also, no matter what they say, I-I am Hajime-san’s, you know?”
“I never cared about that.”
Although Shia tried to casually appeal to Hajime while feeling shy, Hajime cut off her words with a single phrase.
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“… … Hajime.”
“Nn?… … What is it, Yue?”
Because of Yue’s criticizing glance, Hajime flinched a little. Yue pointed her forefinger and said, “… … bad!”. In short, it was about his promise from before to be nicer to Shia. Hajime, who didn’t harbor love for Shia even now, thought it was enough to treat her as a relative… … however it seemed that was an out for Yue.
“Hajime-san! If you keep that attitude, I won’t give you the “well-done” skewered meat!”
Following that, recently Shia was not as easily discouraged. She didn’t even twitch at Hajime’s tsun-remark. Even if she received the shock, she immediately revived and repeated her strong and positive approach.
“… … Like I said, how did you know that mate-… … no, it’s nothing. I understand, so quickly hand over the meat.”
“Fufu, do you want to eat it? Th-Then, a~n”
While blushing, Shia presented the well-done skewered meat in front of Hajime’s mouth. He seemed to really want to eat it. That’s why Hajime took a peek at Yue. Yue readily stood by his side with skewered meat at hand. Probably, she would follow after Shia’s “A~n”.
While feeling the adventurers’ gazes, Hajime let out a sigh then opened his mouth toward Shia. Shia’s expression was dyed in happiness.
Hajime bit then chewed the presented meat in silence. Shia’s expression was in pure bliss while she looked at Hajime. Then, this time another skewered meat was presented from his other side.
“… … A~n.”
He once again took a bite. Silently chewed it. Again, he took a bite when Shia from his other side, “A~n”. He bit again when Yue said “A~n”.
Their subjectivity aside, the voices of the men’s hearts who had objectively seen this spectacle were splendidly unified. In their minds, “We beseech you, please just explode already!!”. They could only use formal words in their minds because they were clearly shown that they couldn’t do anything in face of Hajime’s power .
Two days had passed since then. The distance was only one more day of travel, finally someone appeared to inelegantly obstruct their travel and to assault them.
Shia was the first to notice it. Her rabbit ears, piko piko, moved while pointing toward the forest beside the highway, her unconcerned expression suddenly tightened and she warned the others.
“Incoming enemies! They number more than 100! They’ll come from the forest!”
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When they heard her warning, the tension between the adventurers immediately increased. The highway that they were currently advanced on was not known for the danger from the adjacent forest. After all, it was the only route to the one Neutral Commercial City in the continent. The highway was safe, was what was guaranteed. That’s why, although there were stories of encountering demonic beasts, they were only 20, at most. Even if there were a lot of them, 40 was the limit.
“****, more than 100 you say? Recently, I haven’t heard stories of assault. are they saving up their power for this time’s sake? Damn, even though I had investigated about accidents along the highway!”
The leader of the escorts, Galitima, was cursing with a bitter expression. The escorts of the merchant company numbered 15. If Yue and Shia were included, they became 17 people. Considering the number of people, it’d be difficult to flawlessly defend the merchant company. It was simply because they were overwhelmed in number.
By the way, for them to calculate Shia as a combat potential despite knowing the Rabbitman tribe’s gentle nature was because there was a time when Shia lost her temper by the extreme actions of the “We want to be Shia-chan’s slaves corps”. She blew off those perverts at once, that became well-known to adventurers and made them awe.
The moment Galitima started thinking of letting the majority of the escorts stay and at least making the merchant company escape, a proposal’s voice rang out and interrupted his thinking.
“If you’re perplexed, should we kill them?”
It was said with a light-hearted tone, as if he was just going to go for a little shopping. The unbelievable proposal came from none other than Hajime. Galitima was able to grasp the significance of Hajime’s proposal, then spontaneously asked back with a stupid voice.
“Like I said, shall we annihilate them?”
“W-Well, that’s certainly, because it’ll be difficult to flawlessly defend the merchant company if this keeps up… … umm, can you do it? Although there are no strong demonic beasts around here, their numbers are…”
“There is no problem with the numbers. It’ll end soon. With Yue, that is.”
Hajime said that and immediately put his hand on Yue’s shoulder who moved beside him. Yue looked particularly eager, and as if it would be very easy work for her, she replied with “Nn…”.
Galitima hesitated a little. At least he had heard the rumors that Yue was a user of rare magic. For argument’s sake, even if she couldn’t completely annihilate them, from the attitude of Hajime and his party they should be able to cut down a reasonable number. That’s why, rather than letting the merchant company escape ahead using their various combat potential, he steadily thought of another strategy.
“I understand. I’ll entrust the first strike to Yue. Even if you can’t completely annihilate them, it’ll be no problem as long as their numbers considerably decrease. Then, we only need to decrease them further with our magic, and beat the last of them directly. Everyone, you understand!?”
The other adventurers replied to Galitima’s decision with voices filled with spirit. Apparently, it seemed they couldn’t believe Yue was able to annihilate them alone. Hajime thought in his mind, “There is no need to worry that much~”, but because it was not common sense for magic-users to be capable of annihilating more than a hundred of demonic beasts, he felt their judgement couldn’t be helped as he shrugged his shoulders.
The adventurers took a united line in front of the merchant company. Although tension hung in the air, their faces were resolute. There was no remaining joking atmosphere, like the one during meal time. On the way, even though they had heard various stories from the veteran adventurers, only by seeing their current appearance, indeed, they were able to nod and acknowledge them as veterans. The people of the merchant company were frightened when they heard the large number of demonic beasts, now their faces peeped in from the shadows of the carriages.
Hajime and his party were on the roof of the merchant company’s carriage.
“Yue, for now, start chanting. If not, it’ll become troublesome.”
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“… … Chant… … chant… …?”
“… … Did you not know any?”
“… … Don’t worry, there’s no problem.”
“Well, that material… … It’s nothing.”
“Contact in 10 seconds~”
Because it’d be troublesome if others inquired about it, Hajime told Yue to use chants, but Yue who originally had no need to chant was only able to float “?” above her head. Even so, it would be good as long as she made them assume she was chanting by whispering, although there shouldn’t be any big problems, her reply somehow made Hajime anxious.
While he thought of that, Shia’s report rang out. Yue, suh, turned and hung her right hand toward the forest, then her chanting voice began to permeate.
“You are the one who brought bright red light into this perpetual darkness, crush the prison of old, the one who met face on as an equal, using the power of the strongest fragment, together with him, become the light capable of swallowing heaven, “Thunder Dragon””
With the end of Yue’s chant, she pulled the magic’s trigger. At that moment, a dragon made of thunder appeared from the dark cloud just like in her chant. Its appearance was reminiscent of a snake just like an oriental dragon.
It wasn’t known who muttered that. Even with the crowd of demonic beasts in front of their eyes, everyone’s gazes were fixated at the sky towards the bizarre thunder dragon that let out blue electrical discharge. Even those who were well-versed in magic in the rear, could only open and close their mouths towards the magic they’ve never seen nor heard before.
Then, as if it was no one’s ally. The demonic beasts that had come with killing intent for their prey from the forest, came to a halt between the merchant company and the forest, having been glared at by the huge thunder dragon, it was as if they were frogs that were stiffened by a snake’s glare.
Following that, as if it was heaven’s judgement, Yue flicked her slender and beautiful fingers, causing the thunder dragon opened its jaws that were even able to swallow heaven and attacked the demonic beasts.
The thunder dragon let out a tremendous roar from its huge opened mouth, and some demonic beasts were voluntarily jumping into the opened jaws. Then, they were eliminated by the jaws of thunder and disappeared without any resistance.
Furthermore, as Yue commanded, the thunder dragon coiled around the demonic beasts to encircle them. The demonic beasts that were in the middle of escaping penetrated that wall of thunder and turned into dust before their eyes. Once again, above the demonic beasts that had lost their escape route, the thunder dragon opened its jaws with a thundering roar, and the demonic beasts jumped into it as if they chose to die. Without any time to suffer the pain, their flesh turning into dust coupled with the majestic appearance of the dragon gave off a solemn atmosphere. Having swallowed all of the demonic beasts, the thunder dragon let out a thundering roar for the last time then disappeared.
Every one of the adventurers that were in formation and the merchant company, because of the flashes along with thundering sounds, and followed by a severe earthquake were inadvertently screaming and crouching. Finally, the fear of a life-threatening attack and the impact left them, and when they opened their eyes slightly to see what happened ahead… … there was nothing at all. There was only the ground, scorched in a coil-shape, it was proof that the unreal spectacle just now had truly occurred.
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“… … Nn, I overdid it”
“Oioi, that magic, even I know nothing about it…”
“It is a Yue-san original, right? It seems to be a combination of magic that’s used in the stories of dragons from Hajime-san as a reference.”
“To have made something like this when I shut myself inside the guild… … Rather, Yue, the chant just now…”
“Nn… … A song of meeting and the future.”
Yue looked at Hajime with expressionlessness that gave off an, “How about that!”, atmosphere. She was probably proud of it because it was something she made herself. Hajime quietly used his hand to stroke Yue’s hair gently while letting out a wry smile. Having allowed her to finish the chant to avoid trouble, although it was completely meaningless, his caution disappeared once he saw Yue boasting about herself.
That was Yue’s original magic; “Thunder Dragon”. It’s a compound magic using the high-ranked magic; “Thunder Hammer” that creates a dark cloud then drops a huge amount of lightning, and Gravity magic. The lightning that originally just falls down was arbitrarily controlled using Gravity magic. To purposely make it form like a dragon from Hajime’s story was something made by magic using Yue’s sense. This thunder dragon was filled with gravity magic in the mouth’s parts, that’s why objects would be pulled toward it when its jaws were opened. This is why the demonic beasts looked like they voluntarily jumped toward it. Comparing its magic power, it was at the highest level even among high-ranked magic, that’s why just by looking at Yue’s expression one could see that was the gem of her pride.
And, the adventurers who looked dumbfoundedly at the scorched ground began to regain their senses. Following that, they vigorously turned around to look at Hajime and his party, then started to make a commotion.
“Oioioioioi, what was that? What was, THAT!”
“A-A strange beast was… … from the sky… … from the sky… … ah, it’s a dream.”
“Hehe, I, once we arrive at the town, I am going to marry.”
“I know how shaken you’re, but calm down. Remember that you don’t have a lover, not even a girlfriend.”
“It can be made by magic! It’s not even strange to make a strange beast like that! That’s why I am not wrong!”
“Well, there is no magic related with the life and death cycle, you know? That’s why this situation is abnormal, okay?”
“What!? *******, are you saying Yue-chan is abnormal!? Aan!?”
“Everyone, calm down! Listen, Yue-chan is a goddess, that’ll explain everything!”
Maybe because Yue’s magic left too much of an impact, the adventurers became a little broken. That couldn’t be helped. After all, there was no existing magic that could take the shape of living things. Furthermore, that was even impossible to be used by the magic-users that were employed by the country. It could be said the thunder dropping magic; “Thunder Hammer”, was only usable by ultra first-class magic-users.
Inside the broken adventurers that shouted, “All hail Yue-sama!”, something along that line was the sole sane person; the leader Galitima, who could only sigh after looking at his comrades and approached Hajime and his party.
“Haa, first of all, thanks. Thanks to Yue-chan, we were able to get through with zero damage.”
“We are co-workers now. There’s no need to thank us. Right?”
“… … Nn, I am only doing my job.”
“Haha, I see… … so, that is. What was that just now?”
Galitima asked without being able to hide his bewilderment.
“… … Original.”
“O-Original? Do you mean a magic you created yourself? High-ranked magic, no, is that a highest-ranked magic?”
“… … I didn’t create it. It is a compound magic.”
“Compound magic? But, what on earth combines to make that…”
“… … That’s a secret”
“Kh… … That’s, well, it should be. No adventurers will simply reveal their trump card after all…”
Accompanied with a profound sigh, Galitima gave up the pursuit. He seemed to be sensitive to the tacit rule of veteran adventurers. While he shrugged his shoulders, he turned his attention to the broken comrades. “They would give birth to a new religion called the “Yue faith” if this keeps up, that’s why Galitima must work hard”, that’s what Hajime thought as a man.
While receiving gazes from everyone in the merchant company that were mixed with awe and respect, their group resumed their travels.
Since the time Yue removed the guts of every merchant company’s people and adventurers, she didn’t have anything to do at all, and their group finally arrived at the Neutral Commercial City; Fhuren.
There were six reception desks in Fhuren’s eastern gate, the goods that were brought would be checked there. Hajime and his party were queueing in one of the rows. It would take a while until their turn.
On the carriage’s roof, Mottou approached as Hajime laid down and rest his head on Yue’s lap pillow, while being attended by Shia. It seemed there was something he wanted to say. Mottou looked toward Hajime with a somewhat amazed look, then Hajime lightly nodded and jumped down from the roof.
“Geez, you’re so bold. Don’t you notice the surroundings’ eyes?”
Just as Mottou said, the surrounding eyes were the usual and familiar eyes that contained jealousy and envy toward Hajime, followed by eyes that are filled with wonder and hate toward Yue and Shia. In addition, currently the gazes that appraised Shia were increasing. As expected of a big city’s entrance gate. In the place where various men gathered, there were not only those who simply looked at Yue and Shia with dirty-minds but also those who looked at them as profit.
“Well, although they’re annoying, I can’t do anything about it. So, it’s useless to worry about it”
Hajime said that while shrugging his shoulders and Mottou could only put on a wry smile.
“There’ll be more trouble once you enter Fhuren. As expected, to sell her…”
Although Mottou tried to casually offer a trade for Shia, “Didn’t that conversation already end?”, was what was expressed by Hajime’s silence, and he could only raise a hand as a pose for giving up.
“You aren’t calling me for such talk, right? What business do you want?”
“Well, it is something like that. I’m offering a trade negotiation. It is about the artifacts that you carry. Will you sell those? When we arrive at my company, under the notary witness, I’ll pay the amount that can make someone live his whole life without working. Your artifacts, especially “Treasure Box” are something that merchants will desperately try to obtain after all.”
Along with the word “desperately,” Mottou’s unsmiling eyes were perfectly expressing “even if I have to kill.” It was because “Treasure Box” would be able to solve the problem of cheaply and securely mass transportation goods, that always became a concern in merchants’ heads. That’s why it was understandable.
When he saw various things taken out from the “Treasure Box” while camping, Mottou’s expression was as if someone who had wandered around for tens of days in the desert finally found an oasis while on the verge of dying. Because he persistently tried to negotiate, Hajime gave out slight bloodthirst and maybe because of his intuition as a merchant told him a warning, he withdrew dejectedly.
However, he was unable to give up after all. In front of Donner-Schlag, he was somehow able to approach Hajime and proposed another negotiation.
“I’ll say it again and again, I won’t sell any of it. Just give up.”
“But, those artifacts are too useful for an individual to carry. Isn’t it more reasonable for them to be used by someone who knows their value? If not, it’ll be much more troublesome… … for example, those girls wil—!?”
Mottou, for a little, took a peek toward Shia and Yue on the roof with a mad and threatening look and at that moment, gochih, something cold and hard was pressed on his forehead. That was accompanied with a sublime bloodthirst. No one in their surroundings noticed it. One of the reasons was because they were in the shadow of the carriage and also because Hajime had pinpointed his bloodthirst toward him.
“That, can I think of that as a declaration of war?”
That was said in a quiet voice. However, that voice that was as cold as ice made Mottou stiffen and the eyes of Hajime that peered into his eyes were just like thick darkness. Mottou’s whole body was drenched in cold sweat and he desperately let out his voice.
“Th-that’s wrong. Somehow… … because, guh… … I wouldn’t… … be able to hide about you… … that’s why, I said those… … words. That was all… … uh”
Just as Mottou said, Hajime didn’t intend to seriously hide his artifacts and their ability. Because he had considered it a little to avoid troublesome things, there was the case of Yue’s chant, but if it was reversed, if it was more than “a little,” he didn’t intend to hide it. Hajime had decided “to not hold back” against this world. He would mow all of his enemies down. He had the resolution to do that.
“I see, let’s just leave it at that.”
Having said that, Hajime put away Donner and dispersed his bloodthirst. Mottou crumbled on the spot. While drenched in sweat, he panted.
“Well, it’s up to you on what you want to do. For example, even if you spread that to others, and those people took action, then I wouldn’t care about it. However, if you became an enemy that tried to obstruct me… … Do you think you can survive? I don’t care if it involves the country or even the world. I’ll just sink everything into a sea of blood.”
“… … Haa haa, indeed. It will be an unprofitable business…”
Although he was still pale-faced, Mottou who was capable of firmly replying, was an excellent merchant. Even from the interactions with the other merchant company members, he seemed to be quite adored. Normally, it would be impossible for him to take such a firm posture even now. The things that charmed and drove him mad were Hajime’s artifacts.
“Well, this time I’ll overlook it. But, there won’t be a next time, okay?”
“… … For the love of god. It is me who has become senile. For me to kick the butt of a dragon in front of my eyes…”
“Kick the butt of a dragon” is a proverb of this world, it referred to the Ryuujin race and dragons. They boasted their defensive power as an impregnable defense because of their whole body covered by scales, excluding their eyes and mouth, the butt hole that wasn’t covered by scales was their only weak point. Because of their high defense, as they were deep-sleepers, they wouldn’t awaken once they fell asleep, but they would wake up at once, once their butt that was their weak point received stimulus, and became enraged like raging fires. A long time ago, it was not known why that was done, but the fool was completely crushed. From that, it became the meaning of someone who is foolish enough to purposely disturb someone that was harmless as long as they weren’t disturbed.
By the way, the Ryuujin race was assumed to have perished more than 500 years ago. Although the reason was uncertain, these guys own a characteristic magic called “Dragon Form” that made them between the boundary of a person and demonic beast, there are various opinions such as they were turned into exclusion because of discrimination and they were weeded out by the gods as an incomplete race.
“Now that you mention it, Yue’s magic from back then was imitating the dragon. Although I will apologize if that was truly a dragon, but it’s good that no one knows anything about it. After all I also never heard anything about the Ryuujin race. Well, I think it’ll be okay because it looks more like a snake than a dragon.”
Mottou who somehow recovered, managed to stand up and he advised Hajime while tidying his clothes. He was a somewhat bold person. Although he was going to be killed just now, to be able to casually talk to Hajime meant his nerve wasn’t average.
“Is that so?”
“Ee, they are incomplete beings between people and demonic beasts. Nevertheless, they are frighteningly strong. In addition, they are infidels who don’t believe in any gods. That’s why, I can only nod that they are an odd existence for the church’s authoritarian.”
“I see. Rather, you’re completely okay with it. Are you also one of those infidels?”
“I have a god I believe in, the one where the power is not held by “people”. People are “customers” after all.”
“… … Somehow, I can relate with what you just said. Must be a born merchant, you that is. Having seen it, I can only nod at your recklessness.”
Having said that, towards Hajime that fiddled with the ring on his hand, Mottou showed a mixed expression of apology and pride, truly a complex expression. His merchant-like attitude from just now could no longer be seen. Hajime’s bloodthirst was like having bathed in cold water for him.
“Although I have committed a blunder, if you have a demand, please come to my company. You’re different from the usual adventurers after all. Because I want connections with such a peculiar person like you, I’ll give you some discount.”
“… … Really, what a firm business spirit.”
While being looked at by Hajime with an amazed glance, after saying, “Well then, please excuse me”, Mottou turned his heels and returned to the front.
Yue and Shia, even now, no, gathered even stronger gazes. If you chased Mottou’s back, immediately there were merchant-like people who were talking while pointing at Yue and Shia. Although it was supposed to be a relaxing trip toward Fhuren, Hajime could only think that more troubles were waiting ahead.
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