You know what? Let’s head to town!
Editors: Joker, Speedphoenix
Much to my surprise, the hero hadn’t antagonized me to the point of no return. She was friendly and open-minded enough to see past her prejudices and hold a proper conversation. Actually, that’s not quite right. It’s more like she’s just too innocent to really doubt my intentions.
Though I’d always wanted to ask her about humanity as a whole, the truth of the matter was that, at first, I wasn’t actually all that keen on letting her intrude on my territory for too long. Heaps of hesitation came when I considered the idea. There seemed to be far too many risks and barely any reward, so I’d actually planned on turning her away. But Illuna had convinced me otherwise.
The first thing the young girl had said to me after coming out of the bath was that I could trust the hero because she was a good person. For one reason or another, Illuna’s instincts were remarkable. She was able to tell apart things that would cause her harm and things that wouldn’t at a glance. Without a word from me, Illuna had been able to point out dangerous monsters and steer clear of them the one time she accompanied me into the forest. If even Illuna was willing to testify that the hero was harmless, then there was no reason for me to believe otherwise. In fact, I trusted her instincts so much that I more or less completely let my guard down. Thanks to our resident vampire, I decided to let the hero stay overnight before asking her about the human world the next morning.
Her answers were informative. They told me that I had a fair situation on my hands.
From her responses, I immediately derived that the church bore a wide sphere of influence. They were so influential, in fact, that they had their own private military unit, an order of holy knights. The mastermind behind the incident, however, was able to get the church into a situation in which it either couldn’t or didn’t want to deny his request, be it through money, political pressure, or some other facet of influence. Though the church was powerful, the wire puller was even more so—especially seeing as how he’d even managed to mobilize an army.
I kind of want to say that I’m probably up against an entire country or something similar, but that doesn’t really seem quite right. There’s something… off. The driving force behind both the army and hero incidents seemed a bit… lacking. The mastermind’s methods were needlessly convoluted. It’s almost as if the guy’s going out of his way to leap through hoops.
The force that’d come knocking on my doorstep just the other day was a bit small for an army, at least compared to what it could’ve been. I mean, it’s possible that the mastermind just underestimated me because he kinda lacked intel, but there’s always a chance that he’s just retarded. I think I’m going to be leaning closer to the needless hoops theory though, since he did at least kind of learn from his mistakes.
The fact that he sent the hero was a huge improvement. She was basically stronger than the entire army all on her own. In fact, there was a fair chance that she would have defeated me had she not been such a scaredy cat. My stats were higher than hers, but I’d yet to be trained in combat. I was a total shitter that didn’t have the technique or combat experience to make use of his talents. That, however, was his only improvement.
Sending the hero alone is kind of a pretty big risk. Like, I know the dude’s salty and probably doesn’t want to spend any extra resources since I just blew up his army, but you’d think he’d at least give her a few companions or something. Like, he’d just be totally screwing himself up the butt if he lost the hero just ‘cause he didn’t provide her with enough support.
Of course, the most optimal solution would have been to send the army and hero together. If the mastermind was acting on the country’s orders, or in a position to give them, then it didn’t make sense for him not to have his forces boldly march on the forest, regardless of purpose. And that was all the more true if he truly was working towards a cause as “noble” as retaliating to restore his or the villages’ honour. No matter the case, it simply did not make sense for the hero and army to be sent independently of one another.
I mean, if he’s got the ability to get the army to abide by his will, then whoever’s out to get me should at least be a good bit higher up in government, right? You’d need some serious influence to pull off a stunt like that… Or at least I think you would. Blech, I really need to go to a place with more humans so I can learn more about this world’s people.
Fortunately, I had just the right person to consult standing right in front of me. I had just escorted her out the castle, so I decided to break the silence.
“Oh yeah, I’ll be having you show me around.”
“Huh?” The hero stared blankly for a few seconds before realizing that I was talking to her. “Uhm… I’m not really sure I know what you mean.”
“You know how you’re ‘bout to head back?”
“Yeah, I’mma tag along.”
“Huh?” The hero blinked a few times while staring at me as she tried to process what I’d just said.
“I’ve been wanting to hit up a human village for quite some time, and this is as good a chance as any. So yeah, thanks in advance.”
“Huh!?” Again, the hero blinked. She was so shocked by my sudden declaration that she didn’t know what to say.
“Ah, yes. That is right, Yuki. I would like to bring to your attention that I will be joining you.” The next person to speak was Lefi. She and all the dungeon’s other residents had gathered in front of the castle. I’d already told them my intentions a bit earlier on in the day, so they all came to see me off.
“Wait, you are?” It was my turn to blink. Lefi hadn’t said anything about joining me when I first informed her of my decision. This was my first time hearing about it. In fact, the only one that had expressed their wish to join me was Illuna. I wanted to entertain her request, but I couldn’t. I was confident that I could protect myself even if my identity was exposed, but I somehow doubted that I would be able to keep the both of us safe at the same time, especially since taking her along doubled the risk of exposure. Leaving her here with Leila and Lyuu was the safer choice by all means.
“What? Have you a reason to refuse?” An intrepid smile surfaced on Lefi’s face as she stared me down. It’s almost like she’s daring me to say no.
“Nah, not at all. In fact, I’d be happy to have you join me. I’m just a bit surprised is all. I didn’t think you’d be interested.”
Having Lefi come with me is reassuring. Her being there makes even the worst case scenario a hell of a lot easier to deal with.
“Y-You are happy?” Lefi’s cheeks blushed a pale pink, but she quickly dispelled it with a cough. “I have only chosen to accompany you because I know now that your nature renders you far too soft on women. It would bother me if you took too long to return because you were infatuated with a human. My purpose is merely to keep an eye on you.”
“Yup yup! I know, right! You gotta work hard, Lefi! Do your best!” Wait, was that Illuna that just said that? Is that why she wanted to join me in the first place?
“Very well. I shall endeavor to ensure Yuki does not lose his way.”
I couldn’t help but smile wryly as the two conversed. They clearly didn’t trust me.
“Yeah, yeah, I get it. Anyway, take care of the house while I’m gone, alright guys?”
“As you wish, My Lord,” replied Leila.
“You betcha! We’ll keep this place nice ‘n safe while yer out, Master!”
“Iunno why but hearing you say that makes me feel super worried, Lyuu.”
“Huh!? What gives!?” The beastkin was so shocked that her jaw dropped all the way to the floor.
“I’m just kidding.” The exaggerated expression prompted me to laugh as I responded. “Come on, you know I trust you guys. I wouldn’t be relying on you guys as much as I am if I didn’t. Rir, I’m leaving you in charge of defense. Destroy any enemies that show up without exception. And you too Shii. Do your best to protect everyone while I’m out, ‘kay?”
My two pets each responded with their own affirmations. Rir nodded faithfully, while Shii happily bounced around.
“Alrighty then. I’ll see you guys in a week.” I bid my farewells to everyone present, including the three wraith girls waving from one of the castle’s windows.
“I too shall soon return.”
“Okay! Have a great trip guys!” said Illuna.
“Do stay safe,” said Leila.
“See ya!” said Lyuu.
The hero, the only person not caught up in the “bon-voyage” themed ambiance, voiced a bit of pitiable, idle complaint that she was no longer able to hold back.
“Umm… What about my say in all this…?”
Editor’s Note: Hey, guys! Joker here. Another chapter down. Looks like Yuki’s gonna go visit a town. Wonder how this is gonna go down. Heh. At least Lefi’s coming with him. Any problem comes up, she can handle it fairly easily. Almost makes Yuki going superfluous, don’t you think? Ah well. It’ll be good experience for him, one way or the other. Hah. Double meanings are double. Not really a lot to talk about here. Kinda recovering from some allergies or a cold, so I’ll leave it here for now. See y’all in the next chapter!