“Devote yourself to your studies, boy.” Gramps said once again as hesmiled and faded away.
At the same time, I proceeded to pull Pochis cheeks to their new record horizontal length.
Although I hadnt been able to get an answer out of him, the implications pointed toward my results being satisfactory.
Rather than occupy myself with worry, I ought to be daring and charge onward.
When I decided so and willed my mind to return to my real dream, my cheeks were pulled to their new record horizontal length.
Huh When did the situation reverse on me
~~Nine Oclock in the Morning, Twenty-Sixth Day of the Third Month, Ninety-Fourth Year of the War Demon Calendar~~
“Gah… my face hurts…”
I woke up to the sight of Pochis normalized stomach, a stark contrast to how disgustingly inflated it had been last night.
For the record, there was a fair amount of space for all of us in this room.
When did she even slip onto my bed
What Last night you insisted so much that I dont get close to you, but its suddenly fine for YOU to get yourself close to ME after your stomachs been deflated or what
While I was stuck being exasperated at her behavior despite her being my Familiar, Pochi opened her eyes, presumably because the heat of my head was no longer on her.
hmm… Good morning, sir!”
Go wash your face and get ready.
Looks like Bettys already up.”
Well, theres that and Im hearing the inn staff cleaning up the room next to ours.
We had all agreed to meet up at half-past-nine.
Betty, being a woman of discipline and all, would probably say that we had overslept.
…Wed better take care not to break any of the inns stuff too.
Pochi washed her face at the water tank, and I stood next to her, brushing my teeth.
Such was one scene we had gotten QUITE – big fat QUITE – used to.
So much that Id get this unpleasant strike of déjà vu occasionally.
Would this mundane routine of ours be done away with once the Devil King enters his Fetal Stage …Hmm, I ought not to go off that tangent.
If I keep up with this attitude, theres no way in hell Im winning against the Devil King, or the other Devils for that matter.
I must put my heart and soul into it!
After we were all ready, we went down to the inns front counter, paid what we owed, and left the place.
Looks like Betty isnt out yet.
Pochi and I decided to sit around the side of the inns entrance to wait for her.
The city has already become quite active at this time of day, with the crowd flowing back and forth past us like an unstoppable river of people.
The weather was nice with just the right brightness of sun rays, giving way to a fitting mood for our shopping day.
“So… when will we be going back, sir I know itll only take a few seconds with the Teleportation spell, but consideringwhat weve heard, dont you think we should hurry”
Pochi showed quite a bit of consideration toward our situation as she talked, a rare occurrence coming from her.
So rare indeed.
The current matter concerned theplace of my beginning that Warren and the Divine Messenger had referred to.
Ive had a Teleportation Spell Circle set to take us to Faltown, and from there, we could reach the place in question in even less than a day.
However, we still have quite a lot of things that need to be done, especially some things I would like to get done as soon as possible.
“I know Im done with the Rank-up Evaluation now, but itll still take a few days for it to be official.
Until then, Id like to do some things over here, and maybe go on some high-ranked quests with Betty.
Since this is the Capital, Im sure there are a lot of those going around.
The plan is to return to Beilanea after five to seven days… and then go tothat place around the end of the Fourth Month.”
“Thats a big gap, sir.”
“It just means were so occupied with whats on our hands now.”
Although we had lived in it, the place had originally been a Dungeon.
Theres no telling what could be left undiscovered in it.
It wasnt as expansive nor as long as Labyrinths, as far as I remembered, but it should be repopulated with monsters by now.
Pochi and I stood right up where we sat and kept a vigilant watch on our surroundings.
Who the hell could be after us HERE, of all places!
“Heyas! Long time no see, yall!”
“Gah-! …Wait, huh!”
I turned to the voice coming from behind us and was met with the first sight of a familiar face after a two months absence.
“Mel! Hey, long time no see!”
“Its been quite a while, Melchi!”
Yall are looking swell as ever, I see.
But it didnt look too good when yall got spooked by that killing intent, yeah Not enough training, I say!”
“Thats right! I got caught in its cheerful rays, thats all!”
“Mm-hm, and using the same excuses as ever, I see! So whatre yall doing around here Begging for spare change and stuff”
Melchi asked as she readjusted her wizard hat.
And so I explained to her how I had gone through the Rank-up Evaluation and the reason I am hanging around here today.
I sat back down while that went on, and Melchi followed suit as she kept listening to my story.
“I see, I see… Finding good titles, huh … Hmm… Thats right! If thats what you want, then Ive got some good info to tell you!”
Melchi, as if she had recalled something, turned to me snappingly.
Without otherwise breaking off her sitting posture, of course.
If Melchi – or I, for that matter – broke posture, it could lead the arbitrary beginning of another one of her punishment games, the rules of which she would arbitrarily decide.
Although Melchi herself had never brought up such a thing, Pochi and I had gotten to know her personality quite well over the two years we had trained together.
Still,good info, she said… Lets just pray that her definition ofgood this time wasnt synonymous with mybad.
“So yall go north from Regalia, then when it starts to get stormy on the highway, turn west.
Thatll get yall to this place called the Regalia Ravine.
Thereve been some eyewitness reports of an ancient Sacred Beast there.”
“By Sacred Beast, you mean Haiko the Ashen Tiger, Kohryu the Yellow Dragon, Kokki the Black Turtle, or Shishichou the Violet Phoenix… the ones alternatively called the Tenjuu, or in our language, the Heavenly Beasts… is that it”
“Right~~ But actually, there was ANOTHER sacred beast called Sekiteigyu – Crimson King Bull – so technically there were five of them, but word has it that one of the old Holy Warriors had gone and made it their Familiar, so now theres only four of them left.”
“Whoa, wait a second.
Youre not telling me to go and fight it, are you”
“What Shouldnt that be obvious enough You kill one of them, and youre sure to get an awesome title thats totally worth your time and effort.”
Melchi declared, facial expression as normal as ever – a sight that I could only facepalm to.
…The Heavenly Beasts…
They were not monsters, butBeasts.
Beasts that took to the sky and shed their brilliance in the darkness, earning them the nameHeavenly Beasts among the people.
Legend has it that they were eccentric creatures capable of human speech, and that in the ages of Devil Kings, they had fought against his armies of monsters.
One Id heard of in particular – the Kohryu, although called aDragon, was said to take the form of a serpentine creature instead.
But really Me, defeating one of THOSE
“May you find success, Master! Ill go have fun with Fuyu today!”
Pochi put her front paws together in a religious prayer pose.
“Hey, hold it right there! If Im going, then youre going, too!”
“No way, sir! Those Beasts blow the Rank SS monsters out of the water, so theres no way Im fighting them!”
“Yeah, thats what I thought!”
“Of course, because its you were talking about, sir!”
“So anyway… which of the Heavenly Beasts was seen at the Regalia Ravine”
The Violet Phoenix, the blood of which was said to erase any and all disease from the bodies of those who drink it.
Many adventurers of time long past had challenged for its blood, and as equally as many had died to it as a result…
“Nope, not going there.”
“Nahahahaha! Good to see that youre being honest! But its a good opportunity since youre already here and all, so why not just go take a look The Heavenly Beasts dont attack those who dont threaten them, you know.”
True… it might be worth to get myself a look at it.
“Pretty interesting stuff youre talking about there, Asley.
A voice called out to me from the inns entrance.
Looks like Bettys finally done getting ready.
That reminds me, this IS the first time shes ever seen Melchi – in fact, I think only Bruce got to see her before I had left town and all.
“Took you long enough, Betty… And shes Melchi, the senior apprentice under Tūs.”
“And my instructor!”
“A womans got many things to take care of, you know.
Oh, Im Betty.
Nice to meet you.”
“Melchi here! Id prefer that yall call me Mel, yeah …So, Ash You had fun last night Huhu, uhuhuhuhuhu….”
“H-hey, cut it out! I thought I explained myself clearly enough!”
“Hohohohoho! Its a habit to twist the words without it turning into a lie, my man! And this is me were talking about… huhuhuhuhuhu…”
While I felt my body temperature concentrate on my face, Melchi proceeded to scratch her head through the top of her wizard hat.
It might just be my imagination, but Betty might have reddened up briefly as well.
“Me, with Asley~~ No way in hell,” she said.
“Hey, watch how much youre drooling.
Youll end up dehydrated again!”
“Keep it coming, baby!”
Melchi stuck her thumbs straight up.
And Bettys not at all fazed by those antics… now thats what Id expect from her.
“Youre an… interesting girl, Mel.
We have plans to go shopping after this with Fuyu, another friend of ours, so… you want to come with us”
Betty said, perhaps in an attempt to establish a good friendship.
But then Melchi suddenly facepalmed and produced an apologetic expression.
“Ah – sorry! Just remembered I need to do stuff, so thatll have to wait! Ash, youre still here tonight, right”
“Huh Well, yeah.
“Imma do the night crawl into your room tnight, and well talk then! All right – Ash, Pochi, and Betty! Ill see yall later!”
“Hey, would it hurt for you to say something less suggestive!”
Just like my question fading in the wind, Melchi zipped away like a tempest.
Yes, her extreme speed had made her movement undetectable by the average eyes.
Really, she never ceases to amaze me with her speed.
She might even be faster than what Argent of the Silver General had shown me, now that Ive thought it over.
The three of us saw Melchi off, albeit without knowing in whichever direction we should be seeing her off.
After a while, Betty broke the silence.
“So whatre you two still sitting around here for”
We were scared of the punishment game, thats what.
“W-well, nothing in particular.
Really, were fine.”
“Anyway, that Mel girl… Shes quite incredible.
Looks like your status as thestrongest was meant to last only a day, Asley.”
One day the best, the second best on the next… huh.
Well, Gaston did base his statement on those he knew at the time, so I suppose this was inevitable.
I heaved a deep sigh, and in response, Pochi and Betty patted my back as they chuckled.
“Cmon, Fuyus waiting for us.
Lets hurry to the Adventurers Guild.”
“I cant wait, sir!”
All right, its about time we got down to the shopping.