We had learned, by way of the older gentleman’s explanation, that some immensely powerful monster had made its home not too far from the village. We had also been informed that its presence had curbed any means of networking with other villages.
This village, distant from the royal capital as it is, has thus far made their living by lending their assistance to neighboring villages and being offered the same in return. But now that their connection has been severed, their resources have practically dried up by this point. A handful of the villagers who had been more confident in their capabilities had gone to subjugate the creature, but not a single one of them have made it back so far.
Hm… Just what kind of monster might we be dealing with here? If it happens to be too powerful, then I don’t think there’s much I can do to help.
“As much as we’d love to be of assistance…”
Yuuto casts a quick glance my and Laladi’s way as he speaks to the man. I see how it is. The gentle soul doesn’t want the two of us to get involved in this sort of thing. Well… there might be something to that. It’s probably for the best that we don’t stick our heads where we don’t belong.
“You can’t mean that…! Please, I’m begging you!”
““We beg you!””
As the older man lowers his head, his actions are mirrored by the group of villagers that have somehow come together without our noticing. Oh boy… It’s not like Laladi, and I are part of the Hero Party, you know?
That said… I can’t stop myself from letting my eyes make their rounds, taking in the villagers’ faces, making note of how strangely their numbers seem to favor the men over the women.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any women around, mind. It’s just that there happens to be a profound scarcity of their kind. Are they being vigilant of us, perhaps? Did they choose not to come here because of that?
While none of the villagers seem to have recognized us, Yuuto and his entourage were recognized as the Hero Party almost immediately…
…Colour me suspicious.
“Master, you can listen to the dirty, filthy villagers’ request if you want. Lala doesn’t mind.”
Laladi tugs at my sleeve, her words breaking me out of my solitary mumblings.
Really? Well, she does happen to be much stronger than me. If she says she doesn’t mind, then there probably isn’t much reason for worry.
“Come on, Yuuto. Why don’t we play along with what little Lala said?”
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“I agree, Yuuto. While I’m not too sure about Miss Laladi herself, Master clearly has enough power to fight that monster. It’s better if we lend them our aid.”
Both Longmann and Mary make their attempts to convince Yuuto, who remains hesitant with the thought of us in mind. While I still hold that Laladi’s much more powerful than I am, I keep myself from saying as much.
You have me, someone quite removed from field of the practical. Then you have Laladi, a virtual storm in the front lines whenever she’s off to work. There’s no point in bothering to make comparisons, really. Besides, I’m sure her skill in battle far outweighs mine.
Still… this is a little odd. From what I can see, both Longmann and Mary seem oddly adamant on having us in their company. Then again… I’d made it my mission to protect the members of my guild the second I’d become its master, and I have always been careful in approving the requests that come our way. Strong though my suspicions are, is it just the resulting influence of my work that bolsters them this much?
“Well then… I’m really sorry. Please come along with us for just a while longer. We’ll do our best to keep the fighting between us and that monster.”
Oh, there’s no need for apologies. I wave my hand consolingly at Yuuto and feel myself further reminded of his kind nature.
As much of a virtue as I believe kindness to be, I can’t quell the impression that his might be a tad too much for his own good. I can only hope that it doesn’t give him grief in the future.
“Come on, Master! Let’s go!”
Laladi pulls at my arm. Remind me, were you always the kind of girl who goes out of her way to help others without expecting some form of compensation?
I feel someone’s eyes on me. When I turn to look, I see Maho, her light smile giving away her joy.
…Wait, Laladi. Hold on. Before we can do anything, we have to find out as much as we can about that monster.
‘But Lala knows she’s gonna be okay…’
“That’s a good point. Village chief, please. Tell us everything you know.”
Though Laladi appears somewhat off-put by my suggestion, Yuuto, thankfully, shows his approval. Well, while I’m sure that Laladi would make it out alright, and while I think that even I have a good chance of doing the same, it’s possible that the same thing doesn’t apply to the Hero Party, right?
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If there’s anything I had managed to gleam from what Maho had told me, it’s that they haven’t been around in this world for all that long. Regardless of how talented they might be, a fight with a strong monster could still get them killed in a flash.
“Well… We’re not too sure ourselves, if I’m being honest.”
“Whaddaya mean, you’re not sure? If the village is in as much trouble as you say it is, then you’ve gotta know something, right?”
“That’s true, but… Everyone who ever ran into the thing’s been killed, so…”
The village chief answers Longmann’s query with a sheen of sweat glazing his skin. Hm… Come to think of it; he already mentioned that their more capable people didn’t make it.
While it’s true that this village is far out of the reach of any kingdom knights, or even any guild for that matter, it’s still a point of note that so many of their men were unable to defeat the thing.
…We might just be dealing with a monster of a formidable caliber.
“But everyone who’s seen the thing from afar says that it’s huge. Bigger than a person.”
“That big, huh…?”
…But how big is this thing exactly? If it’s about the size of a golem, then that might be a little too much of a hassle.
“Well, no helping it. We don’t have much to go on, but we’re still going, aren’t we? Heroes and all that.”
“…Naturally. We can’t just sit by when someone’s in trouble.”
“There you go, that’s what makes a hero!”
Longmann lets out a sigh as he speaks, and Yuuto’s expression grows ever more resolute. Mary, seeing him do so, is quick to applaud.
True, his will and intention are commendable. I’m sure it’s people just like that that the world really needs, the ones who can make a real change.
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The only thing I ever focus on, admittedly, is keeping Yelquchira and everyone attached out of harm’s way. While my thoughts keep me occupied, Maho, the only member of the Hero Party who’s chosen to remain errant of their little circle, draws closer to me.
Her expression is a strange one, a bizarre mixture of both unease and joy. That’s… certainly a roundabout way to express emotion…
Though I still can’t put a finger on what makes her so happy, I can easily surmise what fuels her unease. It has to be that monster. While it can’t be said that they’re on the same level as the kingdom knights or members of guilds, both professionals in the ways of combat, their mass slaughter is still a fearsome feat.
The burst of feelings and emotions Maho had flung my way just the night before has made some things clear, the trepidations and fears brought along by her forced summoning into this world and her duty to fight in blatant disregard of her own life.
…Is she alright? My worry impels me to call out to Maho before I even realize what I’ve done.
“…Yes, I’m fine. I’m not too sure about all this, but… you’ll save us when things get too much to handle, Master. Won’t you?”
Maho looks up at me, her smile nothing if not mischievous.
Heh… Well, at least you can bring yourself to say that now. I return her smile with one of my own as I look down at her. That’s when Laladi’s grip on me tightens significantly.
“Hmph. Master’s gonna save Lala, she’ll have you know. He doesn’t have the time to take care of you.”
“…Oh, I finally get it. Laladi, you really don’t like me, do you?”
“Lala generally doesn’t like the gnats that fly around Master.”
W-Woah there, what?! We were having a nice, quiet moment not a second ago, where’d that run off to?! Why’s it getting so tense up in here?!
Is Laladi just getting a little uppity because Maho shares a few minute similarities with Kühling? The similarities are there, but very few. I’ve known Kühling ever since she was a little girl, after all, and I’ve already noticed that there happen to be plenty of things that differs the one from the other.
For one thing, Kühling is definitely in the lead as far as emotional fluctuations, and wilder dispositions go. Maho, on the other hand, is just going through a bit of mental turmoil at the moment. On all other occasions, she’s a very collected, reasonable, and intelligent young lady.
…Oh, no. I’m not calling Kühling an idiot, I’m really not, alright? She can just be a little too reckless at times, that’s all.
“Master, Laladi. We’re about to be off. Are you ready?”
Yuuto’s the one to make the inquiry.
Oh yes, we’re all fine and ready to go. Well, I can’t really say that we’ve been too assertive in this matter so far, but let’s get going. We’ll be joining the Hero Party in this period of their heroic saga.