|Author: Shizuku||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 2150 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 970 words|
There were many men gathered inside a dreary and dark room. None of them looked like upstanding members of society, even talking like they were up to no good. And that was exactly the case.
In the center stood a man named Lacks, a crystal ball glowing strangely in his hand. It looked like a crystal ball a fortune teller would use, but that was not this crystal ball’s function.
Just like the rest, he was also a criminal, the ringleader of those gathered in fact. The crystal ball was a magic device which allowed him to forcefully control a certain thing.
“Hmph, it seems the target will be going to the forest this weekend.”
The thing it controlled, which was commonly known as a demon, answered Lacks’ query.
“The forest huh, everything is lining up perfectly.”
Lacks liked what he heard, grinning menacingly.
“Did you hear that, everyone? That noble brat or whatever she was and her maid are going to the forest, just the two of them. And the forest can be a very dangerous place.”
Everyone knew what he was trying to say.
“Yeah, that’s dangerous. The forest is crawling with scary monsters too.”
“How about we escort those defenseless girls then?”
No one would ever take anything they said at face value. They were people who lived in the shadows, favored destruction, and had no sense of morality left. Being escorted by them would be far more dangerous than traveling alone.
“Say boss, can I also take those girls for a fun ride?”
“Of course. They need to learn the dangers of the world.”
Everyone cheered happily, and Lacks nodded satisfied.
(Will it really go according to plan though? I’m afraid you can’t beat them.)
The demon had a far more realistic view, but did not say anything. They would only reply when asked, otherwise nothing forced them to talk.
(We demons usually only help the desperate, who strayed off their path, but have the resolve to pay a heavy price to accomplish their goals. But now…)
The demon looked at the crystal Lacks held.
(I’m sure neither Lord Branses or Lady Nowarel expected the creation of a magic device to sign unfair pacts with us.)
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The magic device Lacks held was known as the Crystal Ball of Postponement, which allowed the user to freely change the due date of a demon’s payment. Thanks to that, Lacks could simply postpone his payment while forcing the demon to do his bidding.
Thankfully it could not erase Lacks’ debt, and there was a limit to how many wishes he could use.
The person who had brought that magic device to Lacks was in a corner of the room, a merchant with gaudy clothes, which made him the only man who did not seem to fit with the rest.
There had never been a magic device that allowed the signing of an unfair pact with a demon since the dawn of time. Not even the greatest sorcerers and sages of history had accomplished such a feat. One could only wonder just where that merchant had obtained it.
But whichever the case, the demon’s options were limited. Exhausted of their attitude, the demon just melded into a shadow before vanishing.
The days pass by without any event, and the weekend where both Olivia and I are free draws near. The weather is also perfect for a picnic.
I prepare everything in the morning, without forgetting to put on some light armor, and we leave the dorm. We head straight through a dirt path which will lead us into the Valhen Woods.
I haven’t been in the forest ever since I fought that serial killer. That reminds me, I wonder how the Man Eater I fed a few times is doing. Maybe it already forgot about me, or it reached the end of its lifespan. Or maybe some adventurer killed it.
I had gotten somewhat attached to it, so I’d like to visit, but I can’t do that when I’m together with Olivia. It could get dangerous for her, and I don’t want her to find out I was sneaking out to the forest.
So I head to a different direction from where the Man Eater lives, picking medicinal herbs as I see them in our path.
“Natalia! This is a medicinal herb you can use, right?”
“Yes, that’s the one. They’re usually hard to spot because they grow in the shadows, you’ve got good eyes, Young Lady.”
Olivia laughs shyly and I gently pet her head.
Somehow things feel a bit hectic today. Picking herbs is just a cover. My main objective is to allow Olivia to release some of her pent up stress from not being able to participate in the tournament, but I’m also happy as long as she seems to be enjoying herself.
In case there’s an encounter I still dislike the idea of her standing in front, but I also don’t want to ruin her fun… I don’t know what to do.
“Hmmm, there aren’t many herbs around here.”
We walk for a while, but it almost feels like the herbs are becoming more scarce with each footstep we take. I knew that fully depleting natural resources can lead to environmental issues, and it’s bad manners too, so maybe it’s best if we look for another place.
There really isn’t much reason to search so hard though. The herbs growing in the garden at home are still of far better quality than those of the forest.
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Eventually we stop somewhere to rest, and soon after many figures approach us from the forest. I feel like I’ve seen them before…
“Ohh today must be my lucky day to run into such beauties. Do you mind if I join you for lunch?”