Saturday, 27 August 2016

Death March 2-5 w/ TLN

Volume 2 Chapter 5: 【The Rat’s Princess】

-Translator: MiaoMix
-Editor: Options
>> Satou here. When I was a student, I read all kinds of books, but I had never once correctly guessed the perpetrator in mystery novels. I would be misled by the author every time! <<

 “Young Master, come again!”
 “Yes, of course.”
 In front of the brothel, I offhandedly answer the sexy lady’s sales talk, then walk down the streets in the dark of night.
 After Arisa and Lulu fell asleep, I went to look for pain-relief medicine on the west side, but some merchants I had saved in the Dungeon insisted on bringing me to drink, then all of us went to the brothel they frequent.
 Thanks to all kinds of play, I got the skills 「Seduction」, 「Pillow Talk」, 「Sex Techniques」, and 「Chiropractics」. I also got various titles, but let’s not mention them.
 Since the merchants I came with drank a lot, they must be sound asleep next to the ladies.
 Yeah, I had my fun, but Arisa and the others will smell the perfume if I just go back like this.
 Going through an alley in front of the brothel that leads to Western Boulevard, I find a sorceress girl with a wand, casting 「Life Magic」 on corner prostitutes, who I then ask to cast washing and drying magic on me. The price is a bit higher at night, but it’s worth feeling refreshed after getting rid of my sweat.
 This area is closer to the Craftsman Sector to the north, so I want to take a passenger carriage, but there are none on the street as all the stores seem to be closed other than the one doing charter carriages. ([[ED Options: So just in case you don't know, passenger carriages are like taxi, while charter carriages are like bus that go to other cities]])
 Without any other options, I can only walk down the Western Boulevard at night.
 Just like on Central Boulevard, evenly-spaced wooden streetlamps line the Western Boulevard. They are not lit with lightbulbs, but with the 「Life Magic」 spell 「Lamp」, cast by sorcerers the marketplace hired.
 This magical light seems to last around two hours, so nighttime is split into three this way: “Principio Noctis”, “Medium Noctis”, and “Finis Noctis”. [^night]
 During “Finis Noctis”, it seems that every other streetlight will be extinguished.
 It is “Medium Noctis” right now, so all the streetlights are lit, but it’s still much darker than at a Japanese marketplace. About as bright as candle-lit lanterns.
 Under the streetlamps, corner prostitutes in skimpy outfits are looking for customers.
 Fortunately, none of them seem to be underaged girls. One 「Copper」 a night is quite cruel, though.
 I have already done it once, so I have no intention of answering their calls. What’s more, there are worrying AR labels above their heads that say 『Status Affliction: Sexually Transmitted Infection (Latent)』.
 Some of them even have 『Status Affliction: Sexually Transmitted Infection (Active)』!
 —Yeah, using protection is important!

 I saw an apothecary on the way back, where I bought some pain-relief medicine for Lulu.
 Their asking price was ten times that of the market price, and after haggling, they brought out useless, expired product, which I then pointed out and asked for the real thing.
 As I feel nostalgic for Japan where prices are always reasonable, I check my log and see that the skill 「Analysis」 has been added for some reason.
 The one doing the analysis wasn’t me, but the Menu’s AR display…
 It might come in handy later, though, so I add Skill Points to it.

 As I walk down the Boulevard, it had become “Finis Noctis”, and now only every other streetlight is lit.
 Despite in the midst of various noises, I think I hear the sound of a wingbeat, so I look up at the night sky.
 I didn’t see anything, but I figured out what it was after finding a feather that dropped. The result of using 「Analysis」 revealed that it belonged to a type of owl called 「Shadow Owl」.
 No wonder it was flying around at night.
 I admire the beautiful feather under a streetlamp, then stow it in 「Storage」 under my cape to keep as a present for Pochi and Tama.
 This late into the night, fewer and fewer people roam the streets.
 Either due to this atmosphere or my 「Enhanced Hearing」 skill, I notice a faint metallic clang.
 I stop to listen. Seems like there is a commotion on the other side of the street.
 I’m not one to rubberneck, but I’ll definitely feel bad if I ignore this, only to be told “someone was murdered” the next day.
 If it’s just a bar brawl, I’ll leave it alone, but I’ll intervene if it turns out to be a robbery or another crime in progress.
 Having decided, I go into a dark alley without any streetlights. This place is near the mansion I saw during the day, I think. Since the basement had become the base of a criminal guild, could this be a conflict between members?
 The moonlight casts shadows in the alley.
 Focusing my eyes in the darkness, I can almost make out the figure of a hunched-over child and some guys surrounding him.
 That’s right, I remember having gotten the skill 「Night Vision」, so let’s give it Skill Points and activate it.
 The pitch-black alley suddenly seems much brighter, allowing me to clearly see the shapes of people and objects.
 It’s like looking through a Starlight Scope. [^scope]
 There’s no one else here. I knock over some lumber leaning against a wall nearby, making a loud noise.
 I had hoped this would scare them away, but two of the perpetrators approach me, seemingly moving by sliding.
 —Those are shadows!
 Things I can only describe as humanoid shadows are getting closer. The AR displays relevant information about them.
 They are called 「Shadow Stalkers」. Level 11 monsters. As their appearance suggests, physical attacks don’t seem to affect them.
 I don’t know whether they got past the city’s Anti-Monster Barrier or escaped from the dungeon, but I’m glad I don’t have to hold back against some monsters.
 Taking out the 「Magic Gun」 from 「Storage」, I aim at one shadow and pull the trigger.
 I keep shooting in case the shadow would dodge, but due to it being either slower than I expected or too confident in its abilities, it faces the bullet head-on without dodging at all. The shadow evaporates, and its reddish Core drops to the ground.
 As I dealt with the first, the second one has gotten close.
 This shadow swings a blackish blade at me. Whether this blade also consists of shadow, I have no way of knowing from the front.
 I shift to one side, dodging the blade with the reflexes granted by the skill “「Evasion」.
 I hear the sound of scrap lumber being cut up behind me.
 Due to this maneuver that shifted my position, the freshly-cut surface of the scrap lumber that was hit in my stead comes into view.
 I have no intention to be cut by *that*! Although I do have the skill 「Self Healing」 that can more or less heal my wounds, I don’t want to imagine trying to re-attach a severed arm.
 I raise my gun to defeat it before it can move again.
 With a humanly impossible movement, the shadow’s arm bends against its joint and swings at me.
 I dodge it by a hair’s breadth.
 Dropping down to the floor this way, I fire three consecutive shots and finish off the shadow.
 Whew, I completely forgot they were not human...

 I clap my cheeks to focus myself.
 I have to get a move on, or that kid will be killed by the shadows.
 The kid, wielding some hatchet-like weapon that would occasionally glow red, is keeping three of those shadows at bay.
 He is quite skilled but seems to be protecting something behind him, which restricts his movements.
 Occasionally, the shadows’ whip-like swords would leave gashes on the kid’s body.
 I try to snipe the two shadows that are not aligned with the kid with the 「Magic Gun」. With the setting at maximum this time, one shadow is destroyed with a single shot.
 Sadly, the price of increased power is a longer cooldown time.
 As a result, my plan to solve the problem by sniping everything from afar has failed.
 Having noticed me, one of the shadows approach. As I try to shoot it down, it splits into several shadowy arrows that fly toward me.
 There’s no room to dodge in this narrow alley.
 —To my side!
 I jump off the wall into the air.
 The shadowy arrows change their course to stay on my trail, but I keep dodging them by jumping from each side of the wall.
 It’s not an easy manoeuvre, but thanks to the support of the skill 「Vertical Maneuvering」, I evaded them successfully without messing up my inner ear.
 When the arrows combine once more into a single humanoid figure, I shoot it down with the 「Magic Gun」.

 A bang echoes through the alley.
 The kid, burdened by blood loss, was unable to dodge the shadow’s attack and was slammed into the stone wall.
 I quickly check his health—safe. He’s still alive.
 The shadow seems to have transformed into a black sphere and tackled the kid. It knew a linear whip-like attack would be dodged, so it tried a planar one, huh.
 A crack has appeared at the center of the sphere. The handle of the kid’s hatchet is sticking out of it. Physical attacks shouldn’t have worked— I see, a magical weapon, huh.
 Digging into the dirt, I close in on the sphere hugging the ground like a Fighting Game character. [^fighting]
 Within three steps, I stand in front of the shadow and drive the hatched into the sphere by stomping on the handle.
 Along with the sound of something shattering, the shadow disperses into smoke, as the shards of its cracked Core splatters across the ground. I ignore the scattered shards and recover only the Magical Hatchet.

 Anyway, I really should check on the kid.
 Like a marionette cut from its strings, the kid lies against the wall.
 No, calling him a kid was my mistake, as the AR display reveals.
 Running to his side, I remove his helm to look at his face— if I didn’t already know what to expect, I would probably scream.
 Under that red helmet, his face is that of a rat’s, covered in gray fur. His rat face looks surprisingly rugged and manly. [^ratface]
 He is a Ratman cavalry. Likely due to organ damage, he is coughing up a crimson fluid. His status says 『Heavily Injured (Organ Damage)』, and his health is slowly dropping.
 “...Who’re jou?”
 With his eyes open slightly, the ratman questions with a weak voice.
 “Grr, jou dat bastard’s underling?” [^speech]
 “I’m not.”
 I don’t know who the ratman means by “that bastard”, but I quickly deny it. Probably, the guy who sent out those shadows.
 There’s someone wrapped in the blanket he was protecting, or so the speck of light on the 「Radar」 tells me. That person has not stirred at all, so they’re likely unconscious.
 While I talk to the ratman, I read the AR display above the blanket. Its unexpected content is quite surprising.
 “I can’t, hold out, anymore. Help the bri-, *brincess*.”
 “Got it, leave it to me.”
 Finally relaxing after hearing my immediate promise, the ratman passes out.
 Of course, there’s a reason I answered so quickly. I know how to find someone who knows his princess— or “brincess”, as he pronounced it.
 Right, let’s move. His health is still dropping as we speak.
 I try to stop the bleeding on his visible wounds with cloth taken from Storage.

  >>> Skill obtained 「First Aid」
  >>> Title obtained 「Lifesaver」

 Like always, I obtained the skill quite easily, so I quickly add Skill Points to and activate it, before resuming first aid.
 Though the smell of blood and the beast-like odor makes me grimace, I continue treatment.
 Good, at least his health isn’t dropping anymore.
 I take out a hooded cloak that’s as dark as the night and put it on.
 I pull the hood over my eyes, then wrap a long towel around my face like a muffler. Just to be safe, I also blank out my name in the 「Social」 tab.
 Now my identity is fully hidden.
 The silver mask will be quite conspicuous under the moonlight, so I’ll go without it this time.
 I lift up the princess and the ratman and jump onto the roof by kicking off the wall. Then after leaping from house to house on the rooftop like some phantom thief, I arrive at the All-Round Agency’s back door.
 I firmly knock on the door.
 Unfortunately, I already checked the 「Map」, and the statuses of both the Manager and Nadi-san indicate 「Asleep」.
 Looks like both of them live on the second floor of the Anything Agency but in different rooms. Not married or in a relationship then.
 It would be problematic if I make too much noise and alert the guards, so I take out wires from 「Storage」 and pick the locks. The 「Treasure Chest Picking」 skill seems to also be applicable here.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Lock Picking」
  >>> Title obtained 「Lockpicker」

 Entering inside, I let the two of them lie on the somewhat stiff reception sofa.
 The ratman’s helmet makes a crisp chime after hitting the sofa’s frame.
 —Oh, the Manager woke up.
 His status changed from 「Asleep」 to 「None」. Seems like he’s quietly going to wake up Nadi-san.
 “B-, boss? I-, is this *yobai*?” [^yobai]
 My 「Enhanced Hearing」 skill tells me what’s going on upstairs. For some reason, Nadi-san sounded quite delighted.
 With Nadi-san hidden behind his back, the Manager comes down the stairs.
 It would be a problem if I am mistaken as an intruder and attacked, so I decide to talk first.
 “Good evening, sorry to disturb you. Nadi-san, it’s Satou.”
 “Huh, Satou-san? What business do you have at this time of night?”
 Nadi-san’s voice sounds incredulous. Yeah, can’t be helped.
 “I’ve brought the Manager’s acquaintances. They’re gravely injured, so I hope you can treat them quickly...”
 Hearing his acquaintances are injured, the Manager and Nadi-san leave the cover of the stairs.
  “■ ■ ■ ■ Mana Light.”
 The Manager waves his staff to cast magic. It shines like LED lighting.
 “This is a ratman? This red helmet, he’s the infamous ratman cavalry ‘Red Helm’ on the Wanted list!”
 “Never met.”
 Having seen Red Helm, the Manager denies. I correct his misunderstanding.
 “The Manager’s acquaintance is inside this blanket. Red Helm called her ‘princess’.”
 “A Princess of Ratmen? Within the Ratmen’s ranks, no one should have titles other than the tribe chief and the warriors...”
 The Ratmen are a militant race? Nadi-san is unexpectedly knowledgeable.
 While pondering such things, I open up the blanket to let them see.
 As I thought, the “princess” Red Helm was protecting is the Manager’s acquaintance.
 Watching from the back, Nadi-san squeaks, “Eh?!” and freezes in place. I can empathize with that.
 Reason being, the person in the blanket is a girl with white skin, light green hair, and *pointy ears*.
 “Why, she’s an Elf!”
 Nadi-san exclaims, shocked.
 That’s right— precisely because this girl is an Elf, I have brought her to the Manager, the only Elf there is in this city.
 They’re also both Boruënans.
 Likely woken up by Nadi-san’s exclamation, Princess Mia opens her eyes a bit. She slowly looks at her surroundings.
 When her out-of-focus silver eyes shifts to my direction, Princess Mia whispers “Beautiful”, then passes out.
 What did she see that made her say “beautiful”? I’m quite curious, but let’s focus on the half-dead Red Helm.
 “Also, what do we do with this ‘Red Helm’ person? Take him to the guards?”
 “Hmm, let’s see. Since he’s Princess Mia’s savior, we shouldn’t take him to the guards or something.”
 “Not princess.”
 “Apparently, Mia-san is not a princess.”
 Nadi-san helps translate the Manager’s overly short sentences.
 “Ack!” We hear a pained cough behind us.
 “Ah, won’t he die if we don’t treat him soon?”
 “This is bad. I’ll go get ex-priest Horn living in the back alley. He should be willing to treat someone with some circumstances. Looks like the bleeding has been stopped, Boss, so just use magic to ensure his breathing is unobstructed. Also, please take off that red helmet and hide it somewhere.”
 With my reminder, Nadi-san hurriedly jumps into action. She grabs her jacket hanging on the wall of the first floor and walk out the store while still in her pajamas.
 “It’s too dangerous to go out alone at night! I’ll go with you.”
 Having seen the Manager begin chanting a spell, I catch up with Nadi-san.


 The next morning, Arisa starts interrogating me for some reason.
 “Man! You already have me, yet you went to the brothel! What complaints do you have about a beautiful girl like me who’s always ready to go!”
 “Pipe down.”
 Why would I even lust after a grade school-aged little girl.
 As the heavily-breathing Arisa, who has taken off her pajamas, approaches half-nakedly, I throw the jacket I had hanging above the bed on top of her.
 “Ooh, the *essence* of a shota...”
 This damn pervert—
 Having just started to huff the smell of the jacket, Arisa suddenly exclaims “A beastly stink!” and throws the jacket away.
 “Wait, you mean you’re into the hairy ones?”
 Arisa, as if distancing herself from me, says something out of the left field.
 I can imagine what she’s thinking, but enough with the rude assumptions.
 “When I went to buy ‘Lulu’s medicine’ last night, I rescued a half-dead beastman on the way back.”
 To avoid drawing attention to other things, I specifically emphasize ’Lulu’s medicine’.
 “Hm~? A woman?”
 “Wrong. It was a man with a rugged face.”
 “Is this BL? It’s BL! Like a Dragon × Snake situation, where the macho Tiger Ear guy forces himself on the Rabbit Ear boy! Ooh, so exciting!” [^bl]
 “Stop yelling about stupid things, and put your clothes on. That’s an ‘Order’.”
 Sheesh, I’ve no interest in that Boy’s Love bullshit.
 Probably due to the ruckus, Lulu has risen from sleep. Her face still looks a bit pale.
 “How do you feel?”
 “Yes, much better than yesterday.”
 “I’ve bought medicine for you. Take one when the pain gets bad.”
 I give her the packets of pain-relief medicine while telling her the instructions given by the apothecary. This medicine is a little different, as it should be taken before or during meals.
 “Right, Arisa.”
 As I open up one packet and hand it to Lulu along with a cup of water, I tell Arisa what I forgot to say yesterday about the dungeon.
 “Huh, so civilians can’t enter the 「Seiryuu City」 dungeon?”
 “Uh-huh, it’s impossible for now.”
 Seeing Arisa sitting depressed on the bed, I comfort her a bit.
 “Goshujin-sama, are you going to settle in this city?”
 “No, after I finish touring this city, I thinking about going south to the Duchy.”
 I’ve gone almost everywhere in 「Seiryuu City」. All that’s left is my promise to eat with Zena-san at the restaurant inside the citadel.
 After that’s done, I want to head to the Duchy and then 「Dungeon City Seriveera」, where the beastgirls can live comfortably.
 The reason I’ve made the Duchy my next destination is mostly that I want to see the oft-praised night view along the river.
 “So then, so then...”
 Arisa perks up and comes closer.
 “After the Duchy, I want to go to Dungeon City!”
 “Mm, that’s fine with me.”
 “Really?! Promise!”
 Arisa sticks out her little finger, and we make a pinkie promise.
 Looking at Arisa staring at her pinkie-promised little finger and giggling, I urge her to go to the stable to eat breakfast with the beastgirls.
 I should tell the beastgirls about going to the Duchy and Dungeon City!

 After everyone ate breakfast, I go to the All-Round Agency alone.
 “Good morning, how is the situation?”
 “Fine, both of them are still asleep.”
 Red Helm has already been treated by ex-priest Horn, but since he can only cast low-level Holy Magic, the wounds have not been fully healed.
 The bleeding has already been stopped, but the organ damage can only be repaired a little without mid-level 「Holy Magic」 or higher.
 Wha? I thought the Manager can use 「Elementary Magic」 and 「Sylvan Magic」. Can’t he help with healing?
 I voice my doubt to Nadi-san.
 “Boss’s magic isn’t suited for healing! He says he can only stop bleeding and disinfect wounds.”
 Right, if the Manager could use Healing, we wouldn’t have to find ex-priest Horn in the middle of the night…
 “Can’t we treat him with potions?”
 “Mid-level potions could treat him, but they’re way too expensive!”
 All the potions I found in the dungeon were given away, so I don’t have any right now.
 I’ve already saved him so lending him some money for medicine is no big deal, but it feels like I’m being a little too nosy.
 Seeing my silence, Nadi-san seems to have misunderstood—
 “Don’t worry about the medicine. Boss has already made a deal with an acquaintance, who will help mix the medicine for cheap if we prepare the ingredients.”
 —And adds on.
 In order to gather ingredients, the Manager got up early to go to a forest some distance from here.
 Since the Manager is taking care of Red Helm’s injury, I’ll ask about Mia’s situation next.
 “The princess doesn’t seem to have been hurt. Has she still not woken up?”
 “Mia-chan wasn’t hurt, but her body is weak from extreme fatigue. According to Boss, it seems like the result of sustained mana exhaustion.”
 An exhaustion of mana, huh… If only I could give her some of my meaninglessly ample mana.
 With that said, what did she do to become this weak?
 “Symptoms like this should be able to be treated with Boss’s Elementary Magic ‘Mana Transfer’ and Sylvan Magic ‘Stamina Charge’...”
 But for some reason, whenever mana or stamina is transferred with magic, it would vanish like pouring water into a leaky caldron.
 Neither the long-lived Manager nor the knowledgeable Nadi-san knows the cause.
 I check Mia’s status through the Map.
 Age 130. Female. Level 7. Skills are 「Water Magic」 and 「Archery」, and the Gift 「Spirit Vision」. Titles are 「Cradle Master」 and 「Young Child of Boruënan Forest」.
 Judging from the terms 「Cradle」 and 「Young Child」 in her titles, 130 years old for Elves probably count as children. It’s hard to imagine her real age from her grade school or middle school-aged appearance.
 Mia seems to be a nickname, as her full name is “Misanariä Boruënan”.
 I thought Misanariä would be shortened to “Misa” or “Ria”, but I guess “Mia” is the result of Elven conventions?
 There aren’t any status afflictions like a curse or a disease, nor anything unusual about her titles. I don’t think she’s staying in bed because of the 「Cradle Master」 title either.
 From what I can see, she hasn’t recovered even 10% of her stamina, but her mana is slowly recovering, as the gauge is visibly filling up.
 The Manager’s treatment is starting to show its effect, isn’t it?
 I want to tell Nadi-san about this, but I wouldn’t be able to explain how I know it. So, I talk about something else and see if I can lead the topic in that direction.
 “Other than 「Healing Magic」, isn’t there any other way?”
 “Mia-chan can also be treated with potions that recover mana, but that’s quite expensive as well.”
 Naid-san smiles weakly while adding “Can’t help it, everyone’s poor”.
 “I think she can also recover if we bring her to some place that’s full of mana like a Leyline or a Source, which won’t cost any money, but the only ones around here are either deep within the Count’s castle or the ‘Dragon’s Canyon’.”
 I see— “Source”?
 I was going to ask Nadi-san more about a “Source”, but a sound can be heard from the second floor, so let’s put it off for now.
 Since the sound seems to be coming from where Mia is sleeping, I check the Map—Mia’s status has changed from 「Fainted」 to 「None」.
 Nadi-san doesn’t seem to have heard, so I give her a hint.
 “There seems to be some movement on the second floor. Could she have woken up?”
 “Satou-san’s ears are as sensitive as those of Elves or Rabbitmen!”
 Rabbitmen, huh. Are they real life bunny girls?
 There doesn’t seem to be any in 「Seiryuu City」, but I want to see one for myself!

 Nadi-san and I go up to the second floor where Mia is sleeping.
 Before Nadi-san can allow it, I’ll wait outside the room.
 “Mia-chan, are you awake?”
 “I’m Nadi, an employee of this store. This is Boss— Yusalatoya’s store.”
 Mia’s voice is as youthful as her appearance. Perhaps because she just woke up, she sounds a bit coarse.
 “Outside, who?”
 Mia seems to have noticed me standing outside the room.
 Are her senses this sharp? —No, probably because she heard two people walk upstairs.
 “It’s the person who saved you and Mr. Red Helm—”
 Mia whispers, her voice overlapping with Nadi-san’s.
 The Manager, and now Mia too. Is being especially untalkative a characteristic of their race?
 “Is the ratman with the red helmet named Mizé-san? His has been treated, and is resting.”
 More correctly, “has gone through intensive care”, but telling the truth might only make Mia more worried, so that’s all she said.
 Nadi-san continues her interrupted introduction of me.
 “So, the person outside is Satou-san.”
 “Can he come in?”
 I enter the room when Nadi-san calls.
 This room might be Nadi-san’s bedroom as there is a soothing atmosphere filled with a feminine style.
 Well, there’s more than a few decorative plants, though.
 “Nice meeting you. I’m Satou, a traveling merchant.”
 I answer Mia’s question with a self-introduction.
 Perhaps due to her neat, youthful features and silver eyes, she has the air of a doll.
 “Spirit user?”
 Mia’s sudden question has me stumped.
 I have used 「Fire Magic」, but according to the beginner’s spellbook, it shouldn’t have anything to do with spirits.
 Of course, if there are such things as Sexy Water Spirit Undine or Voluptuous Sylvan Spirit Dryad, I would like to meet them!
 “No, I’ve never met any spirits, you know?”
 “Can’t see?”
 Mia makes a very incredulous expression.
 I thought it was something very common, but when I ask Nadi-san, she asserts, “Only those with the Gift 「Spirit Vision」 can see spirits.”
 Indeed, Mia has the Gift 「Spirit Vision」. Since the Manager doesn’t have that gift, I suppose not all Elves can see them.
 I help Nadi-san give Mia a drink.
 “Do you feel like you can eat?”
 “I’ll go make some soup or oatmeal, so could you stay with Mia for a bit?”
 As Nadi-san apologetically requests me, I agree without a question.
 Until the warm smell of oatmeal is carried up by the wind from downstairs, I chatted with Mia about spirits to spend the time.
 Of course, without Nadi-san’s excellent interpretation, I couldn’t figure out what spirits exactly are from Mia’s short answers.
 There were a lot of vague descriptors like “fluffy” and “shiny”, but I deduced from her few words that spirits are something that “runs through Leylines, conducts via mana, and possess attributes”.
 As for other results, I obtained the skills 「Elvish」 and 「Decryption」, while Mia became attached to me.
 I got Elvish after asking, “How do I say ‘Good Morning’ in Elvish?” You can guess how I got 「Decryption」.
 After having oatmeal, Mia starts to look sleepy.
 “Sorry to intrude on you for this long. I should get going.”
 Having said that, I was getting up from the chair next to Mia’s bed, but she stops me by grabbing the sleeve on my robe.
 Mia begs, looking uneasy.
 Well, let’s stay by her side until she falls asleep.


 “This word is ‘chair’— Alright, the tenth card, GET!”
 “Arisa, too strong no desu!”
 “Pochi, Tama, if you have time to lament, you should try harder!”
 “Arisa is quite good!”
 In one corner of the Gateside Inn’s courtyard, I can hear everyone’s merry voices.
 Besides my kids, Yuni-chan seems to have joined them.
 Not seeing anyone when I arrive at the courtyard, I follow the 「Radar」 and find them gathered inside a small space between the hedges, playing some sort of game.
 They’re sitting around the pile of cards laid out on the ground like in Concentration. [^cards]
 Are those the learning cards we bought yesterday?
 From everyone’s reactions, the game seems to involve placing the cards word-side up, and if anyone correctly guesses what a word says, they would get that card.
 The best part about it, since the correct answer is drawn on the back, they can play even when they haven’t learned how to read.
 “Looks like you’re enjoying yourselves.”
 “Goshujin-sama nano desu!”
 “We’re learning~ the words~?”
 Seeing me peek inside the hedge, Pochi and Tama run up to me.
 “Look nano desu!”
 The two of them show me the cards they got, looking up and expecting to be praised, so I answer their wishes by patting their heads and telling them, “That’s great!”
 I ask them about their cards as well.
 “What card is this?”
 “This is ‘meat’ nano desu!”
 Sorry, this says ‘goat’.
 “And what about this card?”
 “That’s also ‘meat’~?”
 No, it’s ‘rabbit’.
 I look over to Arisa, who probably already knows they are wrong.
 “Well~ They’re so confidently claiming those say ‘meat’, I don’t have the heart to tell them otherwise.”
 Arisa confesses with a wry smile.
 I try to teach these two the correct words.
 “Wrong no desu? It’s goat, but it’s meat no desu.”
 “Nuu~? It’s rabbit, but meat~?”
 The two look confused after hearing my explanation.
 “Then, is this card, too, not ‘poultry’, but actually ‘chicken’?”
 Liza shows one of her cards, completely shocked. “If you know it’s the ‘meat’ of a ‘chicken’, then why not just stop calling it ‘meat’?” I really don’t have the heart to tell her that.
 I think I understand how Arisa feels.

 I gather my spirits and teach them the correct reading for every single card.
 “What’s the word for meat *nano desu*?”
 “This is how you write it.”
 Since there is no card for the word “meat”, I draw one myself.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Drawing」
  >>> Skill obtained「Writing」  
  >>> Skill obtained 「Playing」

 That was quite the result for just drawing on a card.
 Also, I got the skill 「Teaching」 when telling Pochi and Tama words. [^teaching] It looks very useful, so let’s maximize its level.
 Oh, I’ll jot down whatever actions I can think of that might grant skills, and find some time later to do a Skill Acquisition Olympia.
 During the small talk while I made the new card, I unexpectedly find out that Arisa doesn’t actually know how to read or write Shiga Language.
 “In my country, male chauvinism was strong. Even as royalty, I was told that there was no need for me to learn to read, and couldn’t find someone to teach me. In order to be able to read literature like the spellbooks, I had to sneak into my brothers’ classes to learn the lingua franca.”
 Arisa has had quite the tough life though her normal behavior completely destroys that impression.
 “Therefore, I’ll only need three days to learn every one of these cards!”
 It seems like quite the bluff, but she seems to have already memorized thirty out of these hundred cards.
 “Amazing, do you have a trick?”
 “Just pretend the words are pictures. How about starting with words you’re interested in?”
 Yuni-chan, who hasn’t even memorized one, asks Arisa for tips.
 “Ah, there you are, Yuni!”
 Brushing aside the branches of the hedge, Martha-chan comes in. Seeing her hair stuck on the branches, I help her out of it.
 Arisa excitedly expands her nostrils, murmuring “It’s not daphne, but this will do!”  or something incomprehensible. Probably a reference to some manga Arisa read in her previous life? [^scooby]
 With Martha-chan’s appearance, Yuni-chan looks a bit distressed.
 Oh, that’s right, Yuni-chan should be working right now.
 “Sorry, Martha-san.”
 “Sheesh, always acting like a kid. Alright, I’ll help you get it done, so let’s go clean the stable and change the hay before lunch prep!”
 Martha-chan chides Yuni-chan, then energetically rolls up her sleeves, ready to help cover for the girl’s mistake.
 “Uh, um, those are already done.”
 Yuni-chan apologetically informs her, looking up to check Martha-chan’s reaction.
 “Truth is, Pochi and Tama helped me.”
 Seems like the two of them helped her finish the job early, so she could play together with them.
 “I pulled up water like ‘Heya!’ no desu!”
 “And took care of horses~?”
 Those two describe what they did with the help of body language.
 I pet the heads of Pochi and Tama who did their best to help while praising them “You did well!” Tama eagerly rubs her head against my hand. Meanwhile, Pochi obediently lets me pet her, but her tail is wagging like it might fly off.
 In the end, after reminding Yuni-chan that she should report back as soon as she finishes the task, Martha-chan also stays here to watch the card game.


 “Hello! My name is Arisa.”
 “Pochi nano desu!”
 The three young girls open the door to Mia's room and start introducing themselves.
 Perhaps startled by the sound of Arisa and others running up the stairs, Mia has hidden under the covers, peeking out between the gaps.
 During lunch today, when I mentioned that we were looking after but only the ratman, but also “the princess the ratman knight protected”, they all wanted to see, so I brought them here.
 This way, Mia would not be bored, and Nadi-san could be relieved of babysitting and nursing.
 Of course, besides the children, Lulu and Liza have also come. Those two are helping Nadi-san on the first floor. The medicine I gave Lulu was probably quite effective, as she looks better now and could eat lunch normally.
 “Mn, Mia.”
 Mia sheepishly pokes out her face, revealing her eyes, and replies to Arisa and others with a super short self-introduction.
 Seeing Mia’s shy, bashful expression, I can’t hide my surprise.
 Mia’s originally silver eyes have become a brilliant emerald green.
 She definitely isn't someone else, so was it probably her 「Spirit Vision」 skill that caused her eye color to change?
 “A princess nano desu!”
 “Beautiful hair ~?”
 For a reason different from mine, Arisa is also quite shocked from seeing Mia’s appearance.
 She probably made the same assumption Nadi-san did. Unexpectedly, Pochi and Tama are not at all surprised.
 “Wait, I thought she was a rat princess?” [^cheese]
 “Nope! ‘The princess the ratman knight protected’, didn’t I say?”
 I correct Arisa’s misunderstanding. Actually, I wanted to play a little prank, so I intentionally said it in an ambiguous manner.
 Well, her 「Skill Check」 couldn’t seem to figure out she was an Elf through the blanket. Unlike my Menu’s AR display, she needs a line of sight to actually identify.
 Probably owing to the friendly Arisa, Pochi and Tama soon warm up to Mia.
 “I'm heading downstairs for a bit. I'll leave Mia to you! ”
 “Yes, nano desu!”
 “Got it~?”
 My kids quickly agree, but Mia makes a dissatisfied grump. She reaches out from under her blanket, pulling on my robe, and would only let go only after I promise to come back soon.
 How come she is so attached to me?

 Downstairs, Nadi-san is wolfing down her meal.
 “I'm saved! I've only had some oatmeal in the morning. ”
 Having finished her simple meal of rye bread and soup, she is now contently enjoying the herbal tea Lulu made.
 I call it herbal tea, but it's actually just some fragrant leaves in water. It's not as strong as mint, but the aftertaste is refreshing. Pretty cheap too, at only one Micro for an entire bag.
 “You are a traveling merchant, right, Satou-san?”
 With one sip of the herbal tea, Nadi-san asks.
 That's right, that was the setting I made. As I haven't done anything merchant-like, I confirm with a twinge of guilt.
 “Do you have a carriage?”
 “No, I did have a horse, but it ran away during the ‘Starfall’ that time.”
 I think that was the excuse I told Miss Iona at first.
 “What a disaster! If you can afford it, would you like to buy a carriage?”
 With an apprehensive expression, she suddenly suggests.
 Apparently, a merchant the Manager knows is planning to retire, and would like to sell his carriage, along with the two horses used to pull it.
 After touring this place, I plan on bringing the beastgirls somewhere they can live peacefully, so the timing for the carriage pitch is just perfect, but there is an issue.
 “That's quite the opportunity, but I don't have experience driving a carriage—”
 I do have an automobile license, but not one for horse-drawn carriages.
 Not knowing whether to reject, or ask her to find someone who can teach me to drive, I fall silent.
 Oh, Lulu seems to want to talk, so I prompt her.
 “Lulu, if you want to say something, don't worry and go ahead. ”
 “Uh, um, I have driven a one-horse carriage before.”
 Despite some stuttering, she tries her best to tell me what she is capable of.
 “Then, I'll let you teach me how to drive Lulu. Nadi-san, as you can see, I'll take the deal. ”
 “What a quick decision! But Satou-san, aren't you going to check the price?”
 Oops, with so much gold in 「Storage」, I've become a little too careless.
 I glance at the carriages passing 「Gateside Plaza」, checking their market prices. I sure love cheating.
 “I'll trust your judgment on this, Nadi-san. There's no problem as long as it's within budget. The rest can be Nadi-san's commission! ”
 Imitating the expression of a calculating merchant from old movies, I hand Nadi-san a bag of gold.
 The amount is two 「Gold」 above market price, which should be enough if the margin isn't unreasonable.
 If a deal still can’t be reached this way, I’ll put my 「Negotiation」 and 「Haggling」 skills to work.
 “When did you...”
 Though Nadi-san is puzzled, she still takes the money, counts it, and writes a receipt.
 I was so on point that it felt unnatural, huh. I shouldn’t have put the money in bags inside 「Storage」 ahead of time, but agree on an amount first and pay her later.
 Yeah, duly noted. I’ll take more care next time.


 “Let’s practice camping before going on the journey!”
 As a result of Arisa’s declaration, we decided to practice camping on an empty lot in the westside.
 We went to this westside lot because Nadi-san had gotten permission from the owner for us. Though it is normally free to use, since we are going to start a flame, we asked just to be safe.
 The lot is full of weeds, so we bought some grass-cutting scythes from a nearby hardware store, and start by learning how to clear the campground.
 Arisa, Lulu, and Liza, the three of them went to buy whatever equipment we were missing and foodstuff to practice cooking.
 “Let us! Nano desu!”
 Pochi and Tama start excitedly cutting the weed.
 I, too, start cutting weed alongside the two, then gather all the cut grass in one pile. The weed growing where the fire pit will be set up shouldn’t be cut, but rather yanked from the roots to expose the soil underneath.
 I then make the fire pit with rocks that Pochi and Tama collected. I based it on what I could remember from school camping trips but looks like it should work.
 We have nothing to do before the shopping group comes back, so I lie down on the pile of grass next to Pochi and Tama to watch the clouds.
 During the preparation, the 「Log」 told me that I was obtaining skills, so I take this chance to check. I got more skills than I expected. Six in total, including 「Grass Cutting」, 「Cultivation」, 「Pioneering」, 「Collecting」, 「Stonework」, and 「Camping」. [^skills]
 「Camping」 is a skill I thought I’ve already obtained. Seem like sleeping on the dungeon floor or setting up a tent on a large boulder don’t count. The condition is quite a mystery.
 “Thanks for waiting, we’re done shopping!”
 With Arisa leading them, Liza and Lulu have come back.
 Liza makes some adjustments on the fire pit and starts a fire under a pot. She seems to have already gotten water on the way here.
 “Heheh, look, look!”
 Arisa shows me a whistling kettle with pride.
 In this world without any gas stoves, this is probably their “watercan”, but it seems to be an outdoor model, to be hung from a rod and heated on the fire like the pot. [^watercan]
 Lulu puts tea leaves into the kettle and hangs it next to the pot to brew.
 Today’s menu: soup made from three types of diced roots and preserved meat, served with rye bread.
 Wheat bread seems to be found only within the inner walls. I don’t mind rye bread for now, so it’s not necessary to take the effort to buy that before I tire of this.
 Today, Liza swaps her spear with a kitchen knife to serve as the chef. Lulu helps with things like peeling while Arisa offers support from the side. Pochi and Tama have been entrusted with watching the kettle boil.
 I go to collect the tree stump in one corner of the lot. It’ll serve as our table.
 Since no one is watching, I pull up the stump with brute force. I was able to replicate an action only possible with construction machinery thanks to my extraordinary Strength.
 As for the roots sticking out of the ground, I trim them off with the 「Magical Hatchet」 I borrowed from Red Helm.
 The whistling kettle begins to beep.
 For some reason, Pochi and Tama don’t move the kettle away from the fire but run toward me.
 “Kettle is angry~?”
 “Help nano desu! The kettle person is angry nano desu!”
 The kettle “person”...
 It seems to be the first time Pochi and Tama have ever seen a whistling kettle, so they were startled by the steam-driven whistle.
 “It’s just telling us that the water is boiling by whistling!”
 “Not angry~?”
 “Why does it go beep when boiling no desu?”
 I try to teach them about steam, but they don’t seem to get it.
 “Well, duh. You’re not teaching STEM students. You’re trying to tell them that water becomes a thousand times the volume after evaporating. There’s no way they will understand!”
 Wrong, Arisa. One thousand six hundred and ninety-nine times the volume.
 Obviously, Arisa doesn’t hear the retort inside my head and proceeds to open the kettle and place the lid lightly on top.
 The kettle lid is shaking with a clank due to the steam.
 “When water gets hot, it will give out a white smoke. This white smoke is very powerful, and it can push on the lightweight lid.”
 Arisa takes some grass nearby to make a waterwheel. Well, a windmill actually.
 She puts the windmill on top of the steam to make it turn, then blow on it herself to turn it.
 “Like people blowing out air, the steam is blowing out air, so that’s why it can whistle!”
 “Arisa is amazing~”
 “I understand no desu!”

 It makes a bit sore, but the two of them did understand Arisa’s explanation.
 If I could use 「Water Magic」, I would like to invent a spell that can evaporate water to blow away my opponent or create a wall. Well, maybe something similar already exists.
 While we were resting after the meal, I notice some dots on the Radar and look over.
 Stopped in their tracks as we meet our eyes were three Dogman and Catman children. Their stuffed animal-like appearance looks quite familiar.
 “We’re gwateful, fo’ chiken kebobs.”
 “Sanks fo' chiken kebobs.”
 “Id was, dewicious.”
 The beastman children all thank me profusely, before putting down a leaf that served as a plate, filled with some nuts and berries, on the stump in front of where I’m sitting.
 “These are?”
 “Dis is, wepayment.” [^sweets]
 A repayment, is it?
 Pochi and Tama come running over.
 Arisa and Lulu went to buy fruit for dessert, taking Liza as their guard, so they’re not here.
 “No violence~?”
 “Bullying goshujin-sama is a no-no nano desu!”
 Seems like they thought I was being attacked by these kids and mobilized.
 “That’s not it. These kids are just giving me nuts and berries as thanks for the chicken kebabs.”
 Hearing my explanation, Pochi and Tama finally relax.
 “This is an acorn nano desu! It’s very delicious nano desu!”
 “This one is goji~? It’s also delicious~” [^acorn]
 The two pick up things from the plate, telling me what they are.
 “Dose are, dis person’s!”
 Perhaps nervous that Pochi and Tama are taking from the plate without asking, the children protest.
 I really want to accept their token of gratitude, but according to what Pochi and Tama had told me, isn’t these the children’s hard-earned food?
 —Right, let’s just repay them for their repayment.
 If they came a little earlier, there would have been soup and bread.
 There is still two kilos worth of jerky. I’ll give it all to them.
 “Thank you for this.”
 I use a handkerchief to wrap the nuts and berries, then put them inside the 「Garage Bag」.
 Having seen that, those children are about to leave with satisfied smiles when I stop them.
 “I would like you to do me a favor.”
 “Hwat, is id?”
 “We can’t finish this much meat, could you take it with you?”
 Realizing Pochi and Tama are about to say something, I quickly cover their mouths.
 Probably, something about being able to eat any amount of meat.
 “Is dis, hine?”
 “Yes, it would be a huge help.”
 I pretend not to see Pochi and Tama’s looks of protest.
 The children leave while carefully holding the wax-paper-wrapped jerky, as I wave them goodbye.
 Meanwhile, Pochi and Tama somehow discovered that it was fun to nuzzle my stomach, and joyfully rubbed against my stomach until Arisa and the others came back.


 After the picnic in the name of camping practice, I visit the All-Round Agency on the way back, to sign the necessary documents to purchase the carriage.
 With Nadi-san as the go-between, the purchase is effective immediately, and it will be signed over by the day after tomorrow.
 What efficiency!
 When I went through the paperwork for the carriage, Arisa proposes that we escort Mia back to the Elf village.
 According to Nadi-san, the Elf village is south-east of the Duchy, so we can take her home after we visit there.
 Since Mia herself agreed to our proposal and I also want to see the Elf village with my own eyes, we decide to consult with the Manager when he gets back. After all, such a thing should be decided by the guardian.
 Despite having reached an agreement, the Manager still hasn’t returned to 「Seiryuu City」.
 He was supposed to come back either last night or this morning...
 But Nadi-san, who cares the most for the Manager, doesn’t seem to be worried, so it’s probably alright.

 Then, regarding the carriage, after the show-and-tell in front of the All-Round Agency, Lulu and I went outside Seiryuu city to practice driving.
 “The weather is nice today too.”
 “...Yes, that’s right.”
 I try to make small talk with her, but Lulu is still stiff.
 Probably because it’s just the two of us, Lulu is so nervous that her shoulders are locked. The horses, seemingly affected by this tension, have been breathing shallow and unable to stay calm.
 “You don’t have to be so nervous. Behaving like Arisa— might be a little too much, but acting more relaxed and casual like Pochi and Tama is fine.”
 “That...I’m just a slave, this is unthinkable.”
 Lulu weakly murmurs. Looks like changing her mind will take a while.
 First, how about relaxing with a deep breath?
 “Lulu, inhale deeply—”
 Taking the reins from Lulu, I direct her. Easing tension is best done by relaxing the body as well, so I teach her the seated stretching routine I used to do at work sometimes.
 Perhaps due to having become younger when I came here, I haven’t had to do that once yet.
 “Have you relaxed a bit? Since we have the time, let’s chat.”
 I look away from Lulu and toward the drifting clouds while making small talk with a casual tone.
 Despite having relaxed somewhat, Lulu would still only give curt replies like “Yes” or “That’s right”.
 Anyway, Lulu really isn’t good at interacting with men.
 From what Arisa told me, she was bullied for a long time by her male cousins and neighborhood boys, so it’s understandable.
 If she’s so hesitant to talk, the best course is to have her speak freely from the mind.
 When talking about something she’s proud of or admires, words should flow right from her mouth.
 I and my otaku friends are all like that, after all.
 So, what should the topic be?
 After some consideration, I decide to talk about Arisa.

 “—Exactly! Arisa really is amazing!”
 My plan worked, it seems.
 At the mention of Arisa, Lulu clearly lit up.
 Her eyes shone and her cheeks flushed. When she does this with her already gorgeous appearance, she looks more gorgeous than ever.
 I may fall into the Lolicon Abyss if I’m not careful, frighteningly.
 “You sure admire your little sister Arisa!”
 “Yes! Sometimes, I even forget that I’m the older sister!”
 “Indeed, she doesn’t act like an eleven-year-old at all!”
 “Arisa has been a genius since she was little.”
 It’s actually not ingenuity but the knowledge retained from her past life, but she hasn’t told Lulu this, has she?
 Well, whatever. It’s a rare opportunity to be able to talk like this.
 “How were you able to tell?”
 “Let’s see, for example—”
 Though it all goes through an “Arisa is Great” filter, I don’t bother correcting or rejecting anything Lulu says, and let her talk as much as she likes.
 Perhaps not having spoken this much for a long time, she catches a coughing fit, and I pass her the waterskin.
 So, until nearly noon, I listened to Lulu talk pridefully about Arisa.

 Looking up in response to distant thunder, I see dark gray clouds already hovering above the mountains.
 Though I think we still have a few hours, we should do what we came here for before rain falls.
 “So, why don’t we start the driving practice?”
 “Yes! Sorry, I’ve been talking about Arisa so much...”
 After comforting Lulu who’s a bit embarrassed from her excitement, practice starts.
 Of course, the very moment I start driving the carriage under Lulu’s direction—

  >>> Skill obtained 「Driving」
  >>> Title obtained 「Chauffeur」

 —I obtained the skill just like that, so I slowly added Skill Points to raise the skill’s level in accordance with the difficulty of the lesson.
 I didn’t immediately max it partly to take Lulu’s feelings as the coach into account, and partly to spend a little more time together to improve our communication.
 Through the idle chatter, I also learn important things to note about driving.
 Although the 「Driving」 skill teaches me exactly how to drive, but it won’t tell me why I have to drive that way.
 So I relied on Lulu to fill me in on that.
 Still, Lulu seems to only have driven inside a town, so I should find an experienced driver to give me a lecture before we depart!

 Every time thunder booms from afar, the distance between me and Lulu decreases.
 Lulu is afraid of the thunder, probably.
 As a white flash illuminates the mountains, she gives off a small shriek and grabs my arm.
 If she were Arisa or anyone else, they might have gone closer to check out the thunder after hearing it.
 Suddenly, I feel something staring from the patch of trees nearby, so I look over.
 There’s no one there. The 「Radar」 also reveals nothing of interest. There are only birds or other small animals— wait, there is one owl.
 Once again, lightning strikes and the owl casts an eerie shadow against the light on the gray clouds.
 Just when I thought the owl looks me in the eye, it seems to lose interest in us and lands on a carriage entering 「Seiryuu City」, leaving my sight.
 “Uh, um, goshujin-sama?”
 Since I fell silent, Lulu has become uneasy once again.
 It was a rare opportunity for her to chat freely, but now sitting through all that praise for Arisa is in vain.
 “Sorry, I saw a large bird in the trees and got curious.”
 “An eagle?”
 “No, it’s a bit rounder, maybe an owl or something?”
 I make up an offhand answer, trying to once again ease the tense atmosphere.


 Back inside the city, when we reach the All-Round Agency, the sharp-eyed Tama spots us from the second-floor window and waves.
 I was going to wave back, but she immediately moves away from the window, and my left hand end up hanging there.
 I awkwardly direct the giggling Lulu to drive the carriage to Gateside Inn.
 Yeah, she certainly seems to have relaxed a bit!

 “Welcome back, nano desu!”
 I catch the nearly-tumbling Pochi and Tama as they run to me. Following them are Arisa and Mia, who is being supported by Liza.
 “Hi, Mia. Can you walk around now?”
 “Mn, potion.”
 “Thanks to the potion that the Manager brought, it seems. It was my first time seeing it. Potions are quite amazing!”
 Arisa helps to fill the holes in Mia’s words.
 Checking the map, I see the Manager on the second floor of the All-Round Agency. I suppose while we were outside, the Manager returned.
 “It’s great that you’re feeling better.”
 “Mn, grateful.”
 Mia seems to be anticipating something, while Arisa stands behind her, pointing at her head.
 Mia’s hair is a little different today. Her hair that had flowed freely behind her back is now tied on both sides into twin tails.
 I see, she wants me to compliment her on that.
 “Nice hair today, it suits you well!”
 Mia replies somewhat sheepishly when I praise her.
 Arisa then suggests getting some good food to celebrate Mia’s recovery, so I ask the person herself what she wants.
 “Honey pastry.”
 Not expecting an immediate answer, I am a bit late in my response.
 Probably thinking I wasn’t going to accept, Arisa adds.
 “When she heard about the honey pastry that Pochi and Tama had, she was quite interested!”
 “Liza had it too no desu!”
 “Taste of sweet happiness~”
 Perhaps having been reminded of the taste, Pochi and Tama are clasping their own cheeks contently.
 “If possible, I would like to have Mia and everyone else try it too.”
 I get it. Mia is just the excuse, Arisa actually just want to try it herself, huh.
 Since it’s not anything expensive, I give Lulu and Liza some 「Silver Coins」 and ask them to get more pastries than the number of people here.
 I could have Arisa and everyone else go too, but Mia might tag along despite having just recovered, so I sent only the two of them.
 Suddenly, Tama looks up at the roof of the Gateside Inn.
 “What is it no desu?”
 “Mew~ That bird is weird~?”
 Looking at the owl perched at the top of the building, Tama tilts her head.
 —Is that the same one Lulu and I saw while doing driving practice?
 Under everyone’s gazes, the owl flies away again.

 “Hello, Nadi-san, is the Manager in?”
 “My, welcome back, Satou-san. Boss is with Mize-san!”
 Who’s Mize— ah, I remember. Red Helm, yeah?
 After thanking Nadi-san, I head to the second floor.
 The kids are huddled around the table of the sofa set downstairs, playing their flash card game. They sure enjoy playing that game.
 Since it feels like it’s about to rain, no one is coming to this store, but I still warn them not to bother Nadi-san too much.
 After tapping on the door, I enter the room.
 If it were a woman’s or a teenage boy’s room, I would wait for a reply, but since there are only men inside, I just enter.
 Seeing me come in, the Manager raises his hand as a greeting.
 “Zatoe? Jou, jou’re me savior, huh—”
 I accept Red Helm’s thanks. His strange pronunciation wasn’t due to his injuries it seems, but actually a matter of oral physiology, just like the dogman children I met before.
 I try asking Red Helm about the 「Shadow Stalkers」 that attacked, and why Mia was with him.
 Of course, I know that I am sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong again, and I’d drop the matter if they didn’t want to talk, but unexpectedly, they spill the beans.
 They tell me about how Mia was kidnapped from her home in the Elf village by a magician, taken to a facility known as the 「Cradle」, coincidentally picked up by Red Helm when she escaped the facility through a teleportation device, then ran to 「Seiryuu City」 in hopes of getting help from the Manager.
 As for why Red Helm happened to be there, he said that he was there to investigate whether the vegetation on a mountain near his tribe is withering due to the 「Cradle」.
 The reason Red Helm calls Mia, who is of a completely unrelated species, “princess”, turns out to be a habit he picked up when he trained in the Elf village.
 It’s still unknown why the Magician kidnapped Mia. The Manager seems to know something, but I’ll let it go if he doesn’t want to say.
 Also, when they were chased by the Magician’s 「Large Fang Ants」 and 「Flying Ants」, he snuck into the city with the help of some criminals he had dealt with.
 The Flying Ants that attacked 「Seiryuu City」 were sent by that Magician, huh.
 By the way, the compensation seems to have been rock salt that can be found near his tribe.
 —-Right, I have to talk to the Manager about escorting Mia back home.
 “Manager, actually—”
 Cutting off the sentence I just started, thunder outside the window and screaming from Nadi-san and others downstairs reach my ears at the same time.
 The Manager swiftly darts out of the room.
 I quickly follow him. Behind me, Red Helm does the same.
 Coming down the stairs, I see Nadi-san and the girls all hugging one another.
 “What is it?!”
 “B-, Boss...”
 Red Helm readies himself, staring intently at the entrance of the store.
 However, my 「Radar」 isn’t showing any hostile units at all.
 There doesn’t seem to be a problem, other than Arisa crying uncle and flailing on Pochi and Tama, who are hugging her tightly from each side and suffocating her.
 While Arisa is still breathing, I peel Pochi and Tama off of her.
 “What’s the mat—”
 Thunder overpowers my voice.
 At the same time, the light drizzle turns into a storm, covering the view outside in a veil.
 Covered in little girls, I sink back into the sofa, having understood why they screamed.
 Nadi-san and the kids had screamed simply because they were afraid of thunder.
 The Manager lights up the store with magic.
 The light reveals the terrified-yet-satisfied of Nadi-san who is hugging the Manager. “Riajuus explode!” I curse in my mind while smiling wryly at them. [^Riajuu]
 I can deal with Arisa and Mia grabbing my arms, and even Tama who’s curled up on my lap with her claws out, but Pochi desperately hugging my face is a little much. Ouch, it hurts when she pulls on my hair. [^facehugger]
 I pick up Pochi and let her sit on my lap with Tama.
 “Th-, the thunder person is scary no desu!”
 “So bright, so loud~”
 “He makes things pitch-black no desu!”
 “Trees split in half~?”
 Slightly hysterical, the teary-eyed Pochi and Tama are waving their arms recounting how scary thunder is. They’re that scared, huh.
 What’s more—
 “Thunder is dangerous, a danger you know? Azé said even a dragon would fall out of the sky when struck by thunder, it will fall, alright?”
 —Who’s the person telling me all this?
 As if her previous reticence were a lie, Mia is talking a mile a minute.
 I’ve never heard the name before, but could this Azé be Mia’s mother?
 “So Arisa, you’re afraid of thunder too?”
 “...C-, can’t I?”
 So scared, she bit her tongue, huh. With her face all pale, Arisa had dived under my arm and held me tight.
 I suspected this to be her usual sexual harassment, but since she is twitching every time thunder strikes, I was probably mistaken.
 Still grabbing onto my chest, Tama turns her head around to look at something in the rain outside.
 “What is it?” I try to ask Tama, but the sound was drowned out by an even louder thunder strike.
 Illuminated by the lightning, a faint shadow is barely visible. The Radar also reveals an approaching dot.
 Diving through the shower, a large owl swoops in and lands on the counter.
 —-It’s the same owl. Is it getting out of the rain?
 It stares at Mia with its beady eyes.
 The AR tells me information on this owl. It’s a species called 「Shadow Owl」. Seems to be the same kind Red Helm saw before.
 More importantly, its title is actually 「Zen’s Familiar」. A real-life familiar, how fantastical.
 Only, familiars are the subordinates of a magician.
 If that’s the case, the master of this owl is likely the Magician who kidnapped Mia.
 And this Magician’s name is Zen, I’m guessing.
 Speaking of which, I have heard that name before— Ahh, it’s the main character of the play I watched with Zena-san and everyone. That romantic tragedy was based on the true story, so is this just a coincidence? After all, Zen, the protagonist magician in that drama, should have been executed.
 I brush aside the useless information.
 Dealing with this familiar should be the priority. I search the Map for the Magician controlling it, but he’s not in 「Seiryuu City」 or even anywhere in the county.
 —Where is he operating this from?
 Well, let’s capture this familiar first.
 If we don’t take out the Magician’s eyes and ears, there’s no telling when he’ll send more monsters again.
 Keeping my eyes on the owl, I hand Pochi and Tama sitting on my lap to Arisa and Mia, then get up from the sofa to keep the four of them hidden behind me.
 The magical light is casting an elongated shadow behind the owl.
 When *that guy* begins to burst out from the shadow that extends into the rain, everything stops in its tracks, as if frozen in time.
 Yes, that guy is the embodiment of terror.
 We have forgotten how to blink, completely drowning in fear. Not even the slightest bit of resistance surfaces.
 Scream and scramble away— that I cannot possibly do, thanks to my last shred of pride and the sense of responsibility. In order to protect the girls behind me, I am able to remain conscious.
 After an infinitesimal blackout, my terror thins out slightly.
 —Was that Arisa's 「Mind Magic」?
 I open the 「Menu」 with what faculty I have left.
 While resenting the grogginess that is making me feel like an old PC, I open my 「Skills」 tab and scroll to the one I'm looking for.
 After what feels like an eternity, I finally see it.
 —The「Fear Resistance」  skill.
 As soon as I toggle it with a thought from 「Disabled」 to 「Enabled」—time  starts moving again.
 The sudden clarity is astounding.
 Like a waning tide, my tunnel vision slowly expands.
 The silenced sound of the rain has returned as well.
 It felt like dozens of minutes, but not even been a tenth of a second had passed since that guy's appearance.
 The evidence? That guy is still emerging from the owl's shadow.
 The opponent that appeared to be a colossal giant, I now know to be not much taller than me.
 A hunchbacked man wearing a worn-out brown robe. The hood is pulled past his eyes, so his face is still hidden.
 That guy did not fly in like his owl, but rather appeared from nowhere.
 As if he really did crawl out from the shadow, a white dot had appeared on the Radar. It has since become red.
 I don't know the exact mechanism, but surely it was magic.
 My eyes rest on the AR display next to that guy.
 His name is Zen, with a Level as high as 41. Skills— 「Unknown」.
 Not a good sign. That guy is the same as Arisa and the Hero, isn't he?
 Before I can finish reading, the Magician Zen, taking a step forward, takes a sidelong glance at us, before focusing his eyes on Mia.
 Was it just me, or did his eyes briefly pause on Arisa and me?
 “I'm here to pick you up nodayo, Mia.” [^Nodayo]
 Upon hearing his deathly voice that seems to have come from the deep abyss, I feel Mia giving a jolt and gripping my sleeve tightly.
 This man is no doubt the Magician who kidnapped Mia.
 Under his hood, it is pitch-black as if the magical light is being completely absorbed. The only things visible are two small, ghostly, violet flames.
 In place of the terrified Mia, I confront him.
 “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Magician-dono. I am Satou, a merchant.”
 “Humph, I have no business with a merchant nodayo.”
 Zen spits venomously.
 “Still, as expected of a Hero’s descendant. It’s incredible how you can still speak calmly despite bathing in my terror nodayo.”
 —Who’s the descendant of a Hero?
 If he deduced that from my name and black hair, then this guy really is…
 “I am going to let you off easy, but I won’t forgive any insolence, understood?”
 I suppose he is now going to put some weight behind those words. Zen places his hand on the wooden reception counter, which starts to turn black and decay where he touched it.
 Not sure whether it was magic or some magical tool, but it’s definitely dangerous to touch him. I can probably withstand it for some time with the skill 「Decomposition Resistance」, but I have no intention of testing it.
 When facing magicians in any game, the biggest threat would be their area-of-effect spell attacks, but since his objective is to abduct Mia, it should be fine to not guard against that.
 “I do wish to avoid any conflicts, but Mia is a friend. I cannot stand by idly when she is being abducted against her will.”
 “Would you still say the same thing, when one of your hand rots away like this table?”
 Zen walks past the disintegrating counter and steps closer.
 “No matter what, you are unwilling to concede?”
 “Foolish question. If you want to protect Mia, show me your courage. My madness can’t be stopped with mere words, you know?”
 Then, as you wish!
 While taking care not to stomp through the stone-tile floor, I swing at that guy’s solar plexus, aiming for a one-hit KO.
 I used the skill 「Close Combat」 to realize the Chinese Kempo technique I had seen in a manga.
 If I punch too hard, it will become a one-hit kill, so I also apply the skill 「Kidnapping」 to control the power.
 —So light.
 Though the strike was only intended to stop near the surface with no followthrough, this weightless sensation can’t be right.
 Looking over, I see my own fist having gone through Zen’s translucent body.
 As I am in shock, something wraps around my ankle, suddenly drawing me upwards.
 My view becomes overturned. With the help of 「Vertical Maneuvering」 though, I can still look around without my inner ear going out of whack.
 The giant that has taken me by the ankle is countless black tentacles that are extending from Zen’s shadow.
 —This guy can manipulate shadows!
 Though I don’t seem to have taken any damage, the angle I’m held up by still stings.
 Just like with me or Arisa, the biggest threat with magic cast without chanting is the inability to anticipate it.

  >>> Skill obtained 「Shadow Magic」
  >>> Skill obtained 「Shadow Resistance」

 What the heck is 「Shadow Resistance」? Though I would like to question what it is, but this really isn’t the time. I add skill points to the 「Shadow Resistance」 skill, in order to help guard against such ridiculous magic.
 As the 「Shadow Resistance」 skill kicks in, the stinging sensation at my angle subsides.
 “What a surprise nodayo. A fighter disguised as a merchant, huh. What’s more, to move with such agility at your level, it’s really quite an eye-opener nodayo.”
 “I didn’t know there were magicians who can control shadows, so we’re even.”
 It’s silly to keep speaking politely against a hostile opponent, so I talk frankly.
 The level displayed by my 「Social」 tab is so low that I’m being looked down upon, huh. The benefit is that my opponent has underestimated me, but such a thing is pointless right now...
 “Still adamant even in this situation, huh. I’m impressed nodayo.”
 A new shadow emerges next to Zen, morphing into a fist.
 It’s going to hurt if that hits me. I reach into the pockets on my robe, planning to pull out the 「Magic Gun」 from 「Storage」.
 “Leave goshujin-sama alonnnne!”
 Arisa lets out a desperate shriek. At the same time, some sort of pressure passes through the right side of my body.
 According to the 「Log」, she had used the 「Mind Magic」 spell 「Shockwave」.
 For only a second, Zen stumbles backward.
 However, that guy's Health and Stamina do not decrease at all. There was only a knock-back.
 The hood falls off of Zen's head, revealing his appearance underneath.
 —His face is all bone.
 In place of eyeballs, purple flames sit within his empty eye sockets.
 If I didn't have 「Fear Resistance」, I might have screamed.
 I continue my perusal of Zen's status that has been interrupted.
 “...A wraith?”
 Nadi-san's raspy voice can be heard.
 Apparently, Arisa had used the spell 「Remove Fear」 before attacking, clearing everyone's status afflictions.
 Nadi-san's deduction is reasonable, but that guy isn't an opponent that simple.
 “Conflating me with such low-level Undead monsters. How irritating nodayo.”
 Zen glares at Nadi-san, fuming.
 Then, he releases the shadowy fist he had prepared for me toward Nadi-san.
 I twist around in mid-air, pulling out my 「Magic Gun」 from 「Storage」 to cut off the fist.
 The mana bullet makes contact and shatters the fist, but the shadow that makes up the base still maintains momentum and approaches Nadi-san.
 I try to fire a second shot, but the .1-second lag stops me.
 The Manager, putting himself in front of Nadi-san and raising his staff, starts to chant a spell.
 The shadow smashes the Manager's staff, then slams into his chest.
 —That gives me an idea.
 I pull one foot out of the shadow that was wrapped around it, then stomp on the shadow wrapping my other foot.
 After dislodging myself in the blink of an eye, I punch the shadow that is about to strike both the Manager and Nadi-san.
 “Absurd! Yeah, ‘Absurd!’ nodayo!”
 Pulling my fist out of the stone tiles that I smashed along with the shadow, I stand back up.
 I had been mistaken about not being able to touch the shadows.
 But if the shadows can touch us, there should be no doubt the opposite is true—
 “The Shadow Whips created by 「Shadow Magic」 shouldn't be tangible without magic or magical items.”
 —Or not.
 Good thing I haven't announced that with a smug face. I nearly made a faux-pas.
 Anyway, the Manager's Health is critically low after being struck in the chest.
 In order to catch the Manager who had been sent flying by the destroyed shadow's momentum, Nadi-san was knocked out as well.
 “We won't give up Princess.”
 Red Helm picks up the Manager's broken staff and stands beside me.
 Behind me, Arisa whispers instructions to Pochi and Tama.
 “Pochi, Tama, I'll make an opening, so take Mia and escape out the back. Can you do that?”
 “We'll fight together no desu!”
 “Beat up bones~?”
 “No good, we can't win against that guy. His level is too high.”
 Then, Mia shaking denies Arisa's proposal.
 “...Fine. Escape.”
 “What do you mean, ‘Leave you and escape’? We wouldn't be your friends if we leave you here! Our master wants to let you escape, so that's why we're doing this.”
 If Arisa weren't a little girl I'd fall in love right there.
 “Butt, my ass. I'll create the perfect opportunity, so you just focus on escaping.” [^butt]
 That Arisa, is she planning on using her Unique Skill? Also, there’s no way I could have pictured a little girl using such a passé phrase.
 If her skill can get past even my defenses, it should be effective against someone who’s only Level 41.
 Well, I have to do something first, though.
 “Magician-dono. Could you be so kind as to tell us uneducated folks as to what you really are?”
 I raise my 「Magic Gun」 while asking Zen.
 Actually, I already know what he is. As the AR reveals, this guy is, in fact, a 「Null-Life King」.
 An Undead that is on the same level as the infamous “Lich King” and “True Vampire”.
 “Hmm. Sometimes he’s a merchant; sometimes he’s a fighter; but his true identity is a gunman, huh.” [^movie]
 Zen does not answer my question, and instead makes an outdated reference in Arisa’s fashion, then starts laughing by himself, his fleshless jaw clacking.
  “Perhaps I have even more identities.”
 If I must say, I prefer the identity Alternate World Tourist.
 “Interesting. O Satou, I’ll make you a ‘Hero’ too—”
 “Goshujin-sama, Mr. Mouse, get down!”
 Before Zen can finish his sentence, Arisa’s voice cuts in.
 “Fire awayyyy!”
 Just as I fall back, Arisa yells.
 An invisible attack hits Zen square in the face.
 Zen falters— and that was it.
 “That was dangerous. To think you had a Unique Skill! And, that hair! So you are a Transmigrator as well, huh. I did not notice that wig you were wearing.”
 As well, he says. As I suspected, Zen really is a Transmigrator, huh.
 “Grr, you Resisted.”
 Arisa staggers and sinks into the sofa. That shot just now consumed all of her Stamina and Mana.
 The girls gather around the unconscious Arisa, calling her name in concern.
 Red Helm, who could not back off in time, is now out cold, with fluid leaking from his eyes and mouth. He isn’t in mortal danger but might retain some side effects if we don’t do anything.
 Taking advantage of the opening Arisa created, I aim above that guy’s shoulder and pull the Magic Gun’s trigger.
 I’m still not comfortable with firing at someone, but with his ghastly Undead appearance, I can, at least, manage a warning shot.
 The magical bullet shoots toward that guy but is stopped short by a magical barrier in front of him. It looks like some sort of nearly transparent black glass.
 The Magic Gun is also ineffective huh…
 Even then, I can’t cast 「Fire Shot」 indoors like this. If I’m not careful, the whole place will burn down.
 —I could probably win with the 「Sacred Sword」 or the 「Divine Sword」 in 「Storage」, but I’m afraid I might kill him right then and there with that kind of power.
 Despite seemingly just a vengeful spirit, if I kill an opponent capable of reason, I don’t think I would be able to sleep soundly at night ever again.
 If he were inherently an “Enemy of Humanity” like Wagahai Guy or the Eyeball Demon I wouldn’t hesitate this much...
 “Using an intractable power will only bring destruction. If you don’t want that girl to become god’s plaything, don’t let her use that Unique skill anymore.”
 “I will remind her once she wakes up.”
 While listening to Zen’s warning, I try to think of a way out.
 “That is good. Then I’ll be going.”
 —Giving up on Mia?
 Zen’s simple declaration of retreat makes me relax, but the screams of Mia and the others behind me make me turn around in panic once more.
 “No strength~?”
 “Let go, nano desu!”
 Pochi and Tama have been hung up in the air by 「Shadow Whips」.
 Calling out my name in agony, Mia has been bound by countless 「Shadow Whips」, and is already sinking into the shadow.
 Pochi and Tama have been drained of their Stamina and dropped onto the sofa. Alright, they’re unhurt.
 —Gotta save Mia first.
 While apologizing to Pochi and Tama in my mind, I dive toward Mia.
 I grab hold of the 「Shadow Whips」 wrapped around Mia to rip them apart, but they merely stretch like rubber bands, unable to be torn at all.
 In that case, I try shooting the 「Shadow Whips」 wrapped around Mia one by one with my Magic, but the shadow immediately grows more 「Shadow Whips」, and I’m unable to keep up.
 I cast aside the 「Magic Gun」, and grab onto Mia herself to pull her out from the shadow, but the strength of the 「Shadow Whips」 is bigger than I thought.
 Mia is making painful cries.
 My strength seems to be a bit stronger, but Mia’s Health is dropping. If I keep pulling, I might rip her apart.
 “It’s no use nodayo.”
 While descending into the shadow under his feet, Zen comments on my desperate resistance.
 Arisa has picked up the 「Magic Gun」 to shoot Zen, but a black barrier once again blocks the shot.
 “The futility of trying to defeat a superior being like me is just an unreasonable rule of this world nodayo. If you really do not fear death, come visit me in the 「Cradle」. I expect to see you get there using every bit of your wisdom and courage nodayo!”
 Having said what he wanted, Zen disappears completely into the shadow. Why he didn’t personally make sure Mia has also gone in, I don’t know whether it’s confidence or neglect.
 My own body shows signs of being sucked into the shadow, but not any more than one centimeter, likely due to Resistance.
 Having just gotten back at the store, Liza and Lulu can’t help but scream out after seeing the sorry state of the store. [^plothole]
 —I’ve steeled my resolve.
 “Liza! Lulu! Please find someone to heal everybody. Ex-priest Horn or Zena-san will do!”
 With that said, I toss a small bag full of coins to Liza. Viscount Belton’s insignia is printed on it. It might come in handy if necessary.
 “Don’t worry about me. I’ll definitely return with Mia!”
 Without waiting for their response, I dive right into the shadow with Mia.


[^skills]: Before you say anything about Xianxia, this is referring to the literal act of cultivating land. Yeah, those skill names seem vague as hell, but it should be fairly obvious that they are related to farming and working on land in general.
[^watercan]: It's a kettle (ケトル) that serves as a kettle (やかん)? I fail to see the significance here.
[^strays]: “Grateful for chicken kebabs.” “Thank you for chicken kebabs.” “It was delicious.”
[^riajuu]: A “riajuu” (リア充) is someone leading a fulfilling (充実) life in reality (リア). Basically, the antithesis to otakus. Used with humorous exaggeration here, obviously.
[^facehugger]: But how could he see when Pochi is all over his face?

[^movie]: Apparently a quote from the Showa-era movie [Bannai Tarao (1978)]( Speaking of which, I remember the WN saying he came from a different time period...
[^butt]: Joke lost in translation.  The word “でも” (but/however) sounds like “デモ” (demonstration), so Arisa says “デモもスも無い”, literally “There’s neither demonstrations nor strikes”. This is apparently a popular saying in the Showa Era, by the way.
[^sweets]: Not sure if this is intentional wordplay, but “お返し *okaeshi* (repayment)” was pronounced as “おかぁし *okaashi*”, which sounds like “お菓子 *okashi* (sweets)”.
[^acorn]: More accurately, it is probably (based on) a [chinkapin]( nut, which looks like a pointy acorn. (シイの実)
[^nodayo]: His verbal tic isn’t always there, but it does have some significance to the setting. Readers of the web novel are probably aware.
[^plothole]: This could be a plot hole. Wouldn’t they be stuck somewhere on the way back due to either the storm or Lulu’s fear of lightning? Unless, the storm is entirely Zen’s doing and was very localized...

[^night]: I’ll admit: I made the names up. It just feels kinda awkward otherwise, although doing it this way is kinda pretentious. Anyway, these mean “first/second/last [part of the] night”, and the corresponding kanji say “夜一刻”, “夜二刻”, and “夜終刻”. I don’t actually know Latin, so they could be grammatically wrong. [[ED Options: Fixed, and now it is grammatically correct Latin]]
[^scope]: The night vision goggle [AN/PVS-4]( is known as the “Starlight Scope”.
[^ratface]: If you read *My Hero Academia*, this guy probably looks similar to the [principal]( Also, his face is apparently “nihilistic” (ニヒルな), whatever that means...
[^yobai]: If you don’t remember what I said before, this is something like an one-night stand kind of thing.
[^bl]: BL is short for “Boy’s Love”, a genre about homosexual romance/eroticism that’s usually targeted toward women. I’m not sure what ‘Dragon × Snake’ is, but I can guess that it has something to do with trouser snakes... Sure as hell not gonna Google *that*. [[ED Options: I have confirmed that it is NSFW ;-;]] (M: Let us thank Options for his noble sacrifice...)
[^teaching]: What’s the difference between this and the skill “Taming”?! I thought Satou would say something like that… [[ED Options: Well he is a game dev. so he probably knows the difference taming and teaching]] (M: He did question why he got Taming rather than Teaching in 1-5 though)
[^cheese]: What happened to the scene with cheese?
[^cards]: [[ED Options: So here is the game they are talking about]]
[^speech]: [[ED Options: All the intentional mistake is reflecting on the ratman’s injury, as he is injured his sense of speech is giving up on him. Please do not shame me for the intentional ones ;-;]]
[^charter]: [[ED Options: So just in case you don't know, passenger carriages are like taxi, while charter carriages are like bus that go to other cities]]
[^scooby]: [[ED Options: the original was this:沈丁花じゃないけど、これもありね! but tbh it could be both Scooby’s Daphne or Daphne in the blue if anyone has any ideas please leave a comment :3]]
[^fighting]: [[ED Options: It can be any fighting game reference. Street Fighter E. Honda is the best example though]]


  1. are also kinda a riajuu you know......

  2. Right? The LN cut off the interesting tidbits and add useless ones.

  3. Thanks for the chapter

    Would you continue the ln eve though licensed?

    1. Someone seems to upload the whole volume of shield hero ln on a wordpress and separate it into 20ish chapter. Wonder how fast dmca will hit

    2. That wordpress is the web novel not light novel. Web novels are open to translations and will not be targeted by dmca.

  4. thanks kindly for the translation