The next day, just like the previous day, I ate the breakfast that Minnalis had cooked, made preparations and we both left the inn.
There had been no need to wake up early today, so I’d gotten out of bed quite some time after the sun had risen, and by the time we left the inn, the city had already begun moving.
In that city, in which people from all regions of the kingdom gathered, many stores were open once the sun had climbed its way into the sky, and around noon, many people were conducting business – suspicious hawkers with unknown merchandise, novice merchants and people selling secondhand goods at a bargain.
This was a world without any precise clocks like those in Japan, so there were no methods of telling the time other than my biological clock and how high the sun was in the sky, but looking at the whole city, I found it mysterious how the number of open stores and the times they opened remained the same day after day.
Well, I didn’t have a clock myself and was only making guesses, so I didn’t know for sure, either.
The meeting place for today’s competition was at the city’s east gate.
It wasn’t that far from the inn to the east gate, but even walking that short distance, we had to walk past many stalls. There were all kinds of things that did draw my interest, but today, I had to put them all off until later.
Without getting sidetracked, we headed for the meeting place that had been agreed upon.
“Hmm, we weren’t the first to arrive,” I said,
There was already a silhouette at the east gate as we approached it.
We were still quite some distance away, so it seemed that he hadn’t noticed us, but I could see the boy from yesterday standing there by himself. It looked like he was talking to soldiers who were working gatekeepers of the east gate.
This was a world where brightly-colored hair that seemed to celebrate the existence of isekais was normal, but it was easy to spot the boy’s vivid, golden hair among the crowd.
“Did you want us to be first to arrive?” Minnalis asked.
“Hmm? No, not really,” I said. “It’s just that I feel like we left quite early, and I hadn’t thought that anyone would have left earlier. His enthusiasm is a bit, you know…”
Huh, come to think of it, I hadn’t even learned his name. Well, I probably wouldn’t see him after today, so it wouldn’t matter if I thought of him as ‘boy’ until we parted.
“Well, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Let’s go,” I said.
Once we had closed some of the distance, the boy noticed us and approached us with a somewhat relieved look on his face.
“Good morning, aren’t you late? I thought I’d gotten the meeting place wrong,” he said.
“Late? No, I believe we have arrived quite early,” said Minnalis.
She was right. Compared to most times that adventurers went out to hunt, now could be considered a little early. In fact, we hadn’t decided on a time other than ‘before noon,’ so there was no such thing as early or late.
“What are you saying, it’s much later than yesterday, isn’t it? And don’t speak to me so familiarly when you’re just a slave. And judging from your appearance, you’re a beast-person as well. Don’t come too close to me; your beast stink will get on my clothes.”
These angry words came smoothly from the boy’s mouth.
He was scowling at Minnalis; he had separated the world into ranks as he had seen fit and was looking at her with contempt.
The countless eyes that looked at me after deciding that I was an enemy to the world.
The eyes of the villagers that had looked at Minnalis with contempt because she was a beast-person.
The exact same unpleasant feeling in the chest, these eyes that you could find anywhere.
At that point, this boy was already confirmed to be scum, but the scary thing was that he didn’t stop there.
“That’s right, more importantly, I was talking about today. Why did you go back early yesterday? Because of that, we couldn’t train our coordination!” he said.
“I’m sorry?” I said.
What was he saying all of a sudden? I couldn’t understand.
“Train our coordination. We can’t just work as a party together without knowing each other’s abilities,” the boy said, wearing an expression as if to say, “Good grief.”
The first thing I couldn’t understand is why we had to work together as a party. What was this guy thinking? The inside of his head was even more of a field of flowers than I’d thought.
I was so dumbfounded and stayed silent, and the boy continued speaking, seeming to have made some kind of misunderstanding.
“Well, it’s fine if you can just stick out as much as you can to draw the enemies’ attention; as long as you hold them back so that they don’t get to me, I’ll finish them off for you with my magic. Ah, you, don’t stick out too much, alright? I’m not very good at adjusting my spells’ power, and unlike the slave, I’d feel sorry if you got caught up in them.”
… So, what is he saying? That he wants to use us as a meat shield? This guy.
Not only that, but he wanted us to stick out and act as bait, and on top of that, he would use spells without caring if Minnalis got caught in them?
… I’d thought that my opinion on the boy had reached the lowest point, but then the floor dropped further down.
It was a little surprising; I hadn’t expected that I would think so lowly of this boy that I hadn’t cared about at all.
The expression vanished from Minnalis’s face.
It was likely that she had activated her skill because she was unable to control her expression on her own any longer; sometimes it seems that she’s over-reliant on this skill. Perhaps it was best if I warned her about it later.
Still, ah, maybe I should have asked the boy’s name… No, maybe there was no reason to learn his name; it would immediately become meaningless information.
“It’s alright to kill him,” I whispered to Minnalis.
“Are you alright with that?” she whispered back.
“Yeah, use poison so that he can’t be identified, and make sure to take into account how long it takes to act, yeah? It seems that we won’t have much time to enjoy it, so don’t forget about that.”
The boy’s attitude could be described as ordinary for a nobleman. He probably hadn’t left home yet, and it’s not like I couldn’t understand his attitude of looking down on slaves and beast-people, but that didn’t matter.
I had enough of thinking about what was right and what was wrong during my first time through this world. Morals and people’s circumstances, I don’t care about those. The important thing was what I thought.
And this boy had shown hostility and contempt towards my accomplice. Even if he hadn’t done that, he’d said that he would injure Minnalis, despite knowing that she was my slave.
There wasn’t any reason at all to hold myself back for a guy like this. So, Minnalis should do it if she wanted to. If she intended to drown herself in blood, I would stop her, but if she acted rationally, there was no need for me to restrain her murderous intent.
“I don’t mind if you have him to yourself. Most importantly, it wouldn’t be good for my mental health to quietly leave him alone after having my important accomplice made a fool of,” I whispered.
“Th-thank you, Goshujin-sama.”
As Minnalis pretended to be afraid of the boy’s harsh words and covered her face a little, I clearly saw her lips rise in a smile. She couldn’t conceal an emotion that surpassed the limits of the Audacity skill.
… Minnalis, seemed overjoyed at having been given permission to do this.
She was gradually staining her mana with her murderous intent.
“… So that’s how it is. Do you understand how amazing I am?” the boy said.
“Yes, that is amazing,” said Minnalis.
The boy was enjoying himself, engrossed in going on and on about the spells that he could cast while Minnalis prepared her own spell.
I’d suddenly lost interest completely, so his words went in one ear and out the other and I simply responded with, “Yes,” and, “That’s amazing.”
Minnalis and I had been whispering to each other while that was going on, but since Minnalis needed to focus on her spell now, it was convenient so I let him continue.
“Isn’t it? But my amazingness doesn’t end there. One day, there won’t be a single person in this kingdom, no, in any nation, who doesn’t know my name –”
“… Ice Particle Needle Poison,” Minnalis whispered finally, and her spell was complete.
Her deadly weapon, which was filled with murderous intent, ran through the air without anyone taking notice of it except for us.
“Hmm, what is this? Insects?” the boy said, his mouth that had been speaking as fast as if it had been lubricated finally stopping.
He put a hand on his neck, but there was no wound there. No, accurately speaking, there was a wound, but it was such a small one, as if an insect had stung him.
Ice Particle Needle Poison.
It was an original spell for mixing poison that Minnalis had invented, and as its name suggested, it froze poison and turned it into tiny needles.
A spell that added poison created by the Poison Demon of Phantom Flames to the ice created by a composition spell of the water and darkness elements, for which Minnalis possessed a relatively good affinity.
I’d suddenly thought of it while conversing with Minnalis during our journey from the royal capital, and together, we’d found time to develop this spell. It was difficult to control, but the amount of mana used for it was small; it was difficult to detect both visually and by its mana.
Once the tiny, ice-shaped needles pierced the target, they would immediately melt into poison and travel around the body. However, because the ice needles themselves weren’t very hard and didn’t have much force, even low-quality leather armor would repel them. Coupled with a quality specific to beast-people that allowed them to disperse their mana more easily, the situations this spell could be used were quite limited, so it didn’t become the versatile spell that we’d thought it would be.
However, the advantage that made up for this was that it could poison the target without anyone noticing.
“Oh, look at this, haven’t we gathered quite early today?” said Barkas as he and his trio showed up with immaculate timing. “Kukuku, is it because you felt like you couldn’t make your senpais wait? You sure get it, don’t you. Out of regard for this, I can forgive you if you pathetically rub your forehead against the ground and apologize, you know?” he said, grinning broadly.
It was an incredibly obvious provocation.
Seeing his eyes that were clouded over with a scum-like greed for the boy’s staff and Minnalis, it was easy to see that Barkas had no intention of forgiving the boy.
However, the boy didn’t notice this and was drawn in by this simple provocation, lashing out at Barkas out of temper.
“What did you say?! Who would do something as shameless as that?!” he shouted.
“I see. Then we should make a start,” Barkas said indifferently, lightly shrugging his shoulders.
“Yeah, I’m definitely going to make you guys cry!”
“Try it if you dare, but the important thing is to not be surrounded and killed by Goblins. Newly-registered adventurers acting brave and then getting killed by Goblins or something is quite a common story.”
“Hah, who’s going to be killed by a Goblin?”
“No, you can never tell, you know? In this business, nobody knows what the future holds. You could die at any moment,” Barkas said, suppressing his laughter
We showed our plates, the proof that we were adventurers, to the gate guard and passed through the east gate. We’d come into the city from the south, which was surrounded by a forest with the only clearing being just around the gate, but in contrast to that, there was a plain with a clear view, just outside the east gate.
To the northeast, I could see small mountains quite a long distance away, and a sparse forest went on endlessly from the foot of those mountains, as if trying to snuggle up to them. The plain was so wide that it would take three days to get to the mountains if we walked in a straight line.
Me, Minnalis, the boy and Barkas’s trio traveled to that sparse forest without much conversation occurring.
“Well then, the competition will last until today’s sunset. Return to the Guild before then, make your report and then wait there. If you don’t return to the Guild before the sun has finished setting, you’re out,” said Barkas.
“Yeah, I know. Come, let’s go! If you follow me, we won’t lose, AHAHAHA!”
Oh, it looks like the poison has circulated quite a bit, I thought.
The poison that Minnalis had used amplified itself by consuming the targets’ mana, so it would cause the target to enter a light state of MP intoxication before unleashing its direct effects. I supposed that it would be around an hour or two until he became unable to move.
The boy entered the forest with plenty of spirit, and Minnalis and I began walking behind him. We’d been planning to separate from the boy and tail Barkas and his friends, but in the end, it would have been too troublesome and everyone would have made too much noise if we said we’d go our own way, so we obediently followed him for now. We could just cast a light illusion and get away from him once we were in the forest; after all, he would be dead soon.
I glanced around surreptitiously to see Barkas’s trio entering the forest from a different direction.
Their gaze was still directed towards us, so much plain greed in their eyes that it looked as if they would start licking their lips.
Later on, a corpse was discovered by an adventurer, decomposed so completely that it was impossible to tell whose corpse it was. Everything, from the leather armor to the area around the ground in contact with the body, had decomposed to mush, releasing a foul odor.
The only thing that had preserved its shape was the wooden stick in the corpse’s hand that appeared to be a staff, but it had deteriorated so much that it would crumble if touched; it was impossible to determine what kind of staff it was.
Although a request was put up in the city of Ermia to investigate whether this was the doing of a new kind of monster, no similar corpses turned up afterwards, and the people forgot about it completely before long.