Arc 03: Betrothal, and a manuscript of olden gods.
Chapter 38: Cheat persuasion and uninvited guests
“And that’s how Cecyl and I became officially [Engaged]”
“Yes we did~”
In the detached house, we were informing everyone of what transpired earlier.
“Wa-ah, you’ve surprised me. Congratulations, Cecyl-chan”
“As expected of Na-kun, to able to succeed in the ceremony of [Engagement]”
“… Really so”
Everyone was sitting at the table. Rita was resting her chin in her hands, Aine had sparkling eyes, and Leticia was beet red.
However, why did they look so unconcerned? None of them looked surprised.
…Speaking of which, this house had pretty thin walls. Even while Cecyl and I were in her room, I could clearly hear the voices of Aine and others. Did they more or less guess the circumstances? Oh well, that’s fine as well. Cecyl’s condition got better as well, and now we could take it easy traveling to Irgafar.
Sitting next to me who was deep in thought, Cecyl nodded to herself like she made some kind of resolve. She approached Rita and Aine and, with her tiny hands, seized theirs.
“Both of you, come to Nagi-sama’s room with me”
“Eh?” “What’s that, Cecyl-san?”
…Cecyl, don’t tell me…
“Let’s have you two perform [Engagement] with Nagi-sama”
“… With Aine as well?”
And here I was thinking whether I should talk about this matter! It’s so much like Cecyl!
I should be able to do it, probably. I pretty much understood how to use [Skill Structure LV3] and knew where the soul was roughly located. It might not go as easy as it did in Cecyl’s case, but I was sure that I would be able to perform [Engagement] with both Rita and Aine if I had enough time.
“… Aine is fine with how things are right now”
But, Aine gently let go of Cecyl’s hand.
“That reminds me, I think it may be too early for Aine”
I guessed as much. Aine still had the matter of her real younger brother Nias to get through. She was hesitant to tie our souls on such short notice even if that’s what she wanted.
Even so, the way she said that she “didn’t score enough service points yet…” while looking at the small card — much like the one used during radio calisthenics… She had taken it out from her breast pocket of her maid clothes was like there was some meaning to it.
And as for Rita —
She was frantically shaking her head left and right, disheveling her golden hair.
“Is something wrong, Rita-san?”
“Of course! Such a sudden change between the two people, it’s certainly not good!”
“In that case, why does Rita-san continue holding onto my hand?”
Yeah, what a mystery. Before she knew it, Rita was already standing in front of me.
“………Ah, are-eh? Wha-a-a-a-a-a-at?!”
Then she abruptly released Cecyl’s hand.
Being surprised by her own action, Rita once again grabbed Cecyl by the hand and drew her close into an embrace.
“That’s bad, Nagi! Both you and Cecyl-chan are in the [Engagement] phase right now, right? Complete a proper [Spiritual Connection] first!”
“But, we should only do it after enough practice with [Engagement]”
“Why is that?!”
“That’s because Rita is always fighting as our party’s vanguard”
Which made her the most likely one to be injured.
I wanted to be able to make use of the great recovery that was granted by [Engagement] in case things went south. Furthermore, even games put forth a theory that vanguard characters should be assigned high-class skills. In Rita’s case, there was a problem with magic power being different from holy power. I wanted to do plenty of experiments to ascertain that aspect.
“ — Such is my reasoning. Are you fine with it?”
“On the contrary! That much reasoning only makes it worse!”
“Furthermore, Rita is prone to loneliness, so I thought it would bring you peace of mind if you were tied together with us”
“T-that’s not tru-ue. I am not lonely~”
“…. If Rita doesn’t want it, then I won’t force you”
Why was she making a face of an abandoned puppy now?
“As I feared, should we only go with just practice?”
“I said I won’t do it! It is so embarrassing! I. will. not! I won’t!! No! I want to! I won’t, I want to! I said I wo-o-o-on’t !!”
Shouting with flushed face, Rita covered her mouth like she was surprised by the words that she herself had said. Then she tried to correct herself. She grabbed her own sleepwear, her tail busily swaying side-to-side —-
She was in too much panic. Did Rita herself become unable to realize what she wanted to do?!
“Okay, it’s just a practice. We will only attempt to find out whether we can perform [Engagement] or not”
C’mon, don’t go feral on me.
What should I do? It’s not like I wanted to pressure her. Still, I would really like to be able to use the great recovery for when things might get tough…
…Guess I have no other choice, let’s try using a cheat persuasion method here.
“Cecyl, come here for a bit” — I beckoned her to me. Standing in the room corner, I brought my face close to her ears and whispered so that Rita wouldn’t hear us.
“…. Eh? Y-yes, if it’s Rita-san…….” — Cecyl nodded slightly. The tips of her ears were beet red. Then she went back to where Rita was, looked up at her, and said the following: “Big Sister Rita doesn’t want to be with Cecyl?”
Rita grabbed her chest and bent backward.
Fuuh. She couldn’t possibly resist that attack.
“Cecyl will be so lonely without her Big Sister Rita once she gets reborn, you know?”
“Big Sister Rita, we might even become real sisters in the next worlds if the two of us get our souls tied to Nagi-sama!”
Rita crouched down, hiding her face.
Cecyl’s mental attack (impossible to evade or defend against physically) was critical.
“Rita-san, why don’t you be honest?”
“It’s not scary. It will be just a practice. Moreover, I also want to stay together with Rita-san for a long time”
“Always be together with my master and Cecyl-chan? Such happiness…”
Rita raised her face. Her cherry-colored eyes looked hollow. It felt like Rita was half-asleep, so Cecyl was dragging her by the hand to me.
Ah, I overdid it. Earlier, I came to the conclusion that an attack by a younger-sister character would be the most successful on Rita who likes cute stuff as well as Cecyl. Such mental attack was extremely effective, sending her consciousness flying. I am sorry, Rita.
“Please, my master. The thing you did to Cecyl-chan, do the same…….”
Rita stopped speaking midway her speech. Her golden beast ears twitched. The light returned to her blank eyes. With the serious look on her face, Rita peered into my eyes.
“Nagi, I feel a presence. Someone is coming here”
“…. No. I hear the sound of metal. It’s humans”
Having heard Rita’s words, Aine took the broom, and Leticia approached the window.
“They look like soldiers. Three of them. What do they want at this hour?”
I have a bad premonition. Those who come with a visit without thinking about the time of day are, more often than not, unlikely to be decent people.
“I will speak to them. Cecyl, you will be on standby behind me. Aine and Leticia, be prepared for anything”
“Nagi, what about me?”
“Rita, go take Laydi from my room. Then, you are to be our liaison to Iris, just to be on the safe side”
Rita should be able to quickly reach the Hoffmeier’s residence and be back.
“Got it. And one more thing, Nagi”
“… In regards to the aforementioned mistreatment of Cecyl-chan, I will be leaving that for later, okay?”
With her beast ears rocking side-to-side and a stiff smile on her face, Rita obeyed the command I had given her.
It’s good when she’s honest. Rita was cute even when she’s angry.
Now then… I wonder what those uninvited esteemed guests want from us.
“Sorry for disturbing you this late!” — a voice came after the knock on the door.
“We are the guards in service of Iris-sama! Could you open the door?!”
“… What do you want? It’s so late”
Covering the yawn, I opened the door with the face like “I was just woken up”.
On the other side were standing three men in armor. The one leading them was a big man with a beard. He was indeed an embodiment of a brawny soldier.
“My comrade is sick right now. Do not raise your voice too much”
“We are in a hurry as well”
“Got it. Is Iris-sama perhaps worried about our comrade? Tell her that once they are cured, we would come to greet ourselves. I believe the two of them would quickly become friends since she’s a good kid, and their stature is about the same”
I try bringing up a topic we have in common.
The bearded soldier glared at me with pursed lips.
“Or could it be that I should come to Iris-sama’s place now?”
“And here I was thinking to take this chance to return her book”
“We would have you return it at once”
“… May I know the reason?”
“We have been told by Matilda-sama that strangers like you lot must not be allowed to meet Iris-sama any more than you already have. Our reason to come here was to convey that thought. Once the morning comes, you are to leave this town immediately”
So the bearded soldier said while maintaining his trepidation.
Matilda-sama…. Oh, it’s that maid, huh? So it was she who sent these people here. And it’s just to convey the warning?
…. No, that’s not it. The two people behind spread out to left and right so as to not let me escape.
“In the meantime, we are to be on high alert. Anyone who approaches the mansion will be eliminated. You will do well to remember that”
“What about the hired adventurers?”
“They will be tasked with protecting outside the mansion. You seem to not know your own position so I am telling you this. Listen well”
The soldiers beat their sword handles.
“We are the soldiers who have been formally employed by the family of the feudal lord of Irgafar for a very long time. In other words, we are the regulars. Our positions are different from adventurers who were hired only for an hour!”
“…… Both have the goal to protect Iris, are they not? It would do well to cooperate, no?”
“Don’t make fun of us!”
The men stomped their feet.
“We have been serving the feudal lord of Irgafar for more than ten years. Our excellence is that much superior! Do not lump us together with adventurers! Bastard! Did it get into your head to be recognized by Iris-sama?!”
I would really like it if they didn’t come specifically at night and talk about their circumstances. We weren’t that particular about it, whatever outcome was fine with us.
“In the first place, your comrade is ill so you didn’t receive a request or anything, but do not even think about making light of our work, you bastard! With those like you near us, it will only be an obstruction to our ambitions! Why have you even come?!”
“I don’t care!”
“In any case, we have no need for either you or your information!”
“…. Wait a minute. What do you mean by ‘information’?”
Did those guys not listen properly? We made sure to convey the information regarding the undead and [Black Armor] to the town guards though.
I couldn’t say anything concrete about the latter since we “didn’t defeat it”, but I did convey that the armor itself was incredibly tough. I also told that it would be preferable to have a magic sword or, if that’s not available, something like a Warhammer which made it easier to smash its joints and seal any movements.
Did those guys pay any attention to that?
“Ha-ah! We the regulars will in no way use any sort of information that was provided by the likes of you bastard”
“As if that isn’t a stupid thing to do!!”
Well, even my former world had people in management positions who would often disregard the input from those who were directly involved.
Yet the matters of this world involved human lives.
“Bad attitude you have, bastard” — the bearded soldier clicked his tongue. Using it as a signal, the other soldiers drew their swords.
“Could it be that it was you who was operating that [Black Armor]?”
“… If that was the case, I would’ve run away the moment you came”
“You probably laid a trap for the unprepared us. If you’re an enemy, you will show your true colors once we give you a good smacking”
“And if I wouldn’t?”
“Then you are a skillful enemy who knows how to hide his identity!”
Don’t give me that crap. This was these guys goal from that start, huh?
They had no intention to talk. Did they plan to make us admit being Iris’ enemy even if it involved using force? Their reason being that they just couldn’t stomach us.
“Someone like an equal friend of Iris-sama is not needed. Just how much could the outsiders be untrustworthy… This should teach her that the only people she should rely on are us alone!”
“That’s the worst education policy ever”
“This is for us to decide”
The bearded man took a posture with the sword. In his hands was the double-edged greatsword.
“Moreover, should officially employed soldier be saved by a mere adventurer, their assessment would take a hit. If your group just happens to be an enemy, then our mistakes will be ignored.
You were the ones who manipulated both the Living Armor and the undead, they were your accomplices from the start. Everything was just an act in order to get close to Iris-sama. What a terrible thing you did. It was natural for the diligent us to be inadvertently deceived, right? Even Iris-sam would have to agree if it were your own arms and legs inside, right? That’s a good idea, don’t you think?”
“Not at all”
“Your strategy is terrible.”
It’s too rough, too many holes in it. It’s on the level where it would immediately collapse at a light poking.
“If Iris was attacked after we were gone, then the duty of her protection would fall onto you who let us escape. If we were the enemy, then it would be natural for us to just run away with the information regarding the strategy and the soldiers under command of the feudal lord of Irgafar after all”
“On the other hand, should we be tied and dragged before Iris, we will simply proclaim our innocence. The thorough discussion is going to just drag on and on. If [Living Armor] attacked during the time we were captured, it would serve as the proof for our innocence at that exact same moment. Their goal of sweeping away Iris hasn’t been achieved yet, so shouldn’t the enemy appear sooner or later?”
“We will just say that the enemy came to rescue you all”
“Are you saying that the soldiers of the feudal lord will be moving Iris together with the suspects?”
“…. T-that is…”
“No way that’s how it’s gonna go. We would be separated from Iris. If the enemy attacked Iris, then it wouldn’t be the same place where we were at. Therefore, your claim wouldn’t hold any water”
“….S-shut up! Kill this bastard!”
“Do you mean to imply that your assessment wouldn’t take a dive if you killed the suspect at your own discretion?”
“You just talk and talk! That’s the only thing adventurers are good for!”
Those guys didn’t have any useful information. I just wasted time here, huh? Still, it was worth it to find out that the regular soldiers of Irgafar were not to be trusted.
“The greatest mistake you guys made— ”
I raised my hand, all in order to convey the timing of attack.
“Was for simple regulars to stir up a brawl with the guy leading cheat characters!”
“Good grief, that way too sugarcoated. It’s wasteful to use the [too overpowered] stuff on you”
I heard Cecyl’s voice. She was standing behind me with arms on her hips. Next came the words of a chant. Two spells were produced at the same time, uttered by her pretty lips.
“[Oh spirits, shine before me. [Light]!]”
“[Oh spirits of wind, blow away my enemies. [Flame Arrow]!]”
That was Cecyl’s new skill: [Double Chant]. It allowed to cast two spells simultaneously.
Swinging her slender arms, Cecyl pointed her fingers towards the soldiers. The right fingertip produced a ball of light. The left fingertip produced an arrow of flames.
It was impossible to miss at this distance. The flame arrow hit the bearded soldier in the chest while the ball of light hit the faces of the two behind him. Moreover, Cecyl could cast spells consecutively. Even if the magic that she was able to simultaneously cast was of the first level, her speed at chanting had basically increased twofold.
“Gya-a-a-a-a-a-a-h!” “My eyes, my e-ye-e-e-e-e-s!”
The soldiers raised a cry from being basked in magic hitting them one by one.
“Get away from my master, you insolent people”
*swoosh* *clank* *bwah*
The suddenly appearing Rita sent the trio men flying with her kick.
Tumbling on the ground, the men tried to raise their faces when…
“Ah, I am sorry. My hand slipped”
The muddy water fell from the roof and hit the soldiers. Before I knew it, Leticia was already high up.
“You will be cleaned right away. Aine, I am leaving it to you”
“Okay. I will make it clean. The ground, that is”
With a mop in her hand, Aine appeared from inside the room. She turned around once and bowed to me.
*splash* *splash* *splash*
While that was happening, the soldiers were struck by dirty water, and even with a bucket. The amount of water managed to produce a puddle at their feet.
“Na-kun, it’s dangerous so go stand over there. Don’t move away from the safe distance—”
Right now I was standing at the entrance. The distance between me and Aine was around ten meters.
“The effective range of that skill is about as much” — Aine struck the puddle of water with her mop.
As she glared at the dumbfounded bearded soldier, she declared: “For the crime of threatening Na-kun, you deserve an absolute death. Eat this, Certain Kill [Sewage Increase LV1]”
The mop began rotating at high speed. The puddle started to swirl beneath Aine’s feet. Its volume was increasing.
At the same time, the ground beneath my feet — or more like right under my tiptoes — began to crack. All the little weed that was growing there began to wither. It was as if its moisture was being drained.
“Gu-gua-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-h!” — the bearded soldier grabbed his leg and screamed. From the gaps in his iron greaves, a reddish water started to flow.
Is that — the bearded soldier’s sweat — no, is it his body’s internal moisture?
“… So the increase of water is done by forcibly sucking what water there is in the surroundings, huh?“
[Sewage Increase LV1] increased the amount of [muddied water], that Aine touched with cleaning tools, by 20%.
This additional water was siphoned…. forcibly… from the surroundings. From the ground, plants, even air itself. If a human is touched, then it would come from their bodily fluids. With the exception of Aine as skill’s user.
“Stop, stop it, what is going o-o-o-o-o-on!”
“Just so you know, Aine is not doing anything. She only increases the amount of dirty water”
Cramps appeared on the soldiers’ legs.
So the 20% worth of a bucket of water was four cups, that must be about right. At the very least, this much moisture should cause a severe heatstroke.
“Hi-i-ih, Hi-i-i-ih…… Hi-i…………….”
“Aine, it’s enough. They will die if you continue. It will be troubling to have dead people here after all”
“Yes, my master”
Aine raised her mop. The swirl vanished and the accumulated water spread all around… Hey, wait a minute.
Just now, didn’t the dirty water just hang in the air? This skill, does it fixate the water in ten meter radius in its 20% increased state until the user cancels it…?
… Scary. [Sewage Increase LV1] was scary.
“Ga-gaha-ah. Im-impossible, so the magician wasn’t ill… We heard otherwise”
Amongst the three soldiers, two were rolling on the ground while covering their eyes. His legs still in the puddle, the beardy was trembling.
“We cannot sympathise with your values, but it isn’t our intention to antagonise you. Our goal is to live without having to worry, so everything aside from that doesn’t matter. You should go back to protecting Iris.”
Naturally, Aine would erase the last few dozens of minutes of their memory with [Memory Wipe LV1] before that.
“D-damn it. We are the regulars of the proud Irgafar! The memory of being commanded by a temporarily employed adventurer is— “
“Do your work if you’re feeling proud! Don’t go set aside your duty and partake in some stupid affair!”
If I was their enemy, I would’ve already kidnapped Iris. The regulars still didn’t recover after being done in by the undead, and just because some adventurers had to be hired, they already lost all sense of cooperation. With the graveyard charm destroyed, the whole town was in unrest. If the enemy had some strength, it would be best for them attack immediately.
“— Say, why didn’t you think of this before?!”
“As if someone would attack in the middle of the town?! If such a thing happened, I would lay my life down for the duty!”
At the same time as the bearded soldier cried out, a scream resounded from the other side of a river.
[Sewage Increase LV1] (Explanation ver.2)
A skill to increase the amount of [dirty water] with cleaning tools.
The rate is 10% + LV * 10%. The effective range is around ten meters around the user.
The water used in the increase is forcibly absorbed after coming into contact with the filthy water. Earth, vegetation, air. What makes this skill extremely dangerous is that should a human being be touched (by the user’s tools), their bodily fluids and moisture will be stolen. The only exception to this is Aine herself.
By the way, there is a hidden merit of this skill. It allows to instantly dry the clothes if it’s invoked to dry the washing clothes hanging above sewage water.