Translator: Denryuu; Editor: Ryunakama
The beautiful lady introduced herself as Candy.
「Candy… like, sweets?」
「Yup. I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage now.」
Speaking in a peculiarly slow manner, she stared down at Bale who was lying on the bed.
「Bale. I’m twenty-six years old.」
Smiling, Candy nodded.
「When you collapsed, you were covered in blood, so I brought you here. Oh, yeah… this is the room I stay in.」
She illustrated the events that had happened after he lost consciousness, mainly that she had used a potion on him, snatching him back from the brink of death. After that, he had slept for three whole days.
Simply recalling the events of a few days ago made him tremble in fear. The pitiful wails of his comrades and the monsters’ shrieks were still fresh in his mind, and the claw mark on his back stung as much as ever.
「Did you get dunked on by a monster or something?」
「Uhh… they’re usually tame, but not on that day…」
「That’s why you can’t underestimate them. Humans are humans, and monsters are monsters, both playing by different rules.」
「I wasn’t underestimating them at all, but…」
「You’re not an adventurer, are you…?」
「Ah, not many people from your country know about it.」
Ufufu, chuckled Candy, drawing Bale in with her disarming smile. She spooned more of the potion into his mouth and continued speaking. This lady was apparently a human hailing from the Kingdom of Ferland, which was situated somewhere to the northwest.
「– and that’s how I became an adventurer. I take up quests here and there to earn some pocket money.」
「For a lady as beautiful as you to be doing something so dangerous…」
「Ara-ara, I’m afraid your compliments are wasted on me. I won’t fall for your flattery.」
「I didn’t mean to do that…」
She had a certain je ne sais quoi about her. The movement of her eyes, the rhythm of her changing expressions and the shape of her facial features all melded together into a beautiful visual sonata. She must have been born into nobility, thought Bale.
None of the girls he had met in his entire life could hold a candle to this lady. His mouth was dry, and his heart rate increased. When their eyes met, he rapidly averted his gaze and realised that his face had become a little red.
「It’s your turn now, Bale-kun. What are you from? What do you do? And how did you end up like this?」
At that moment, he noticed a frosty undertone to Candy’s smile.
If he were to talk about himself, there’s no way he could avoid bringing up Welger & Co. It’s also not something that should be brought up in any circumstance.
「About myself, well… it’s not particularly interesting.」
She took his hand in hers. Her hand was a little cold, but nonetheless soft and gentle, causing his heart to beat even faster. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, thought Bale. Speak now, or I’ll have to hold my peace forever.
「I want to know more about you…」, cooed Candy once more, washing away any rational thoughts that he still had.
After clearing out what I had made out to be Welger & Co’s lower-rung trash, I returned to the guild and told Iris what I had done.
「There were a bunch of people hunting Grey Wolves to sell them on the black market, but I took care of them. I believe that the wolves’ population will stop shrinking from now on.」
「Thank you for your hard work. The tsunorabi hunting quests are in full swing now, and the Mini Fortunes should start growing properly again. I was worried that offering a thousand rin per rabbit was being too generous, but seeing that their meat can be cured and sold, it’s turning out to be surprisingly lucrative.」
Glancing at a page in the notebook that was on her desk, the branch chief nodded.
「We are also currently experiencing a shortage of commercially-sold beef and pork. I think many people will be glad if we can provide a steady supply of that too」, I added.
Expressing her agreement, she smiled suddenly as if she had remembered something.
「Roland. Her Highness was looking for you — she had tears in her eyes.」
「…She was crying?」
「She doesn’t want the rabbit-chans to be hunted.」
「Hmm, I see. I’ll pacify her on behalf of everyone.」
「Please do. I don’t think anyone else but you can do it.」
With a bow, I headed out to find the reception in chaos. A line of adventurers coming to claim their bounty had formed, and one of the tsunorabi caught alive had escaped.
「It’s there! It ran over there! Someone catch it…!」, exclaimed Milia, joining a few adventurers on a game of cat-and-rabbit.
I couldn’t help but note how lively the guild was at that moment.
As I took a seat, I felt someone’s gaze fall upon me. Looking in that direction, I saw Meiri standing there, hugging Lyla the black cat tightly with her eyes still wet. Rodje was behind her as well. Did you try to appease her, I asked by looking at the two ladies, who promptly averted their eyes. Those two should understand the big picture at least, I thought to myself.
「Why are we killing rabbit-chans… poor things…」
「Meiri, you’re still an F-ranked adventurer. The tsunorabi-hunting quest is E-ranked, so you don’t have to do any of that, okay?」
My attempt to sidestep the elephant in the room didn’t work at all.
「They’re so cute… and fluffy… and warm! Why are we hunting them?」
Clearly holding back her tears, she hugged Lyla more tightly without realising it.
「Ugyaaaa!? I’m getting crushed, I’m getting crushed!」
「Stop it, Meiri. You’ll turn Lylael-sama into a pancake at this rate.」
The little princess stared at me with bloodshot eyes, cleared her throat and pouted.
「Listen, Meiri. What do you do when Leyte falls ill?」
「When Mother falls ill…? I’ll help her…」
「By giving her medicine, correct?」
「Well, your rabbit-chans are eating all the herbs that can be made into medicine. What happens when there are no herbs?」
「Mother… Mother will die…?」, she muttered, feeling another wave of sadness wash over her. 「She’ll die… waaaaaaaah…」
Watching her bursting into tears again, both master and servant began to panic.
「Calm down, Meiri. Leyte will not die. Most likely…!」, said Rodje hurriedly.
「T-That’s right, Meiri. How about we go for an ice cream later? It’s cold, sweet and delicious!」, added Lyla in her own attempt to pacify the little princess.
「No, I don’t want any!」, wailed Meiri.
Having had enough, Lyla leapt onto my side of the counter and hid underneath it.
「My, my ears –」
Physically unable to follow suit, Rodje settled for staring at me instead.
「Good grief, you had to go and say something so unnecessary –」
「I don’t want to hear that from the people who were trying to paint her a pretty picture.」
Meiri seemed to have no lack of tears. Her incessant wailing drew the attention of the adventurers present.
「Aha, the rabbit-chan went over to Roland-san! Roland-san…!」, shouted Milia, interrupting the stalemate that we had gotten ourselves into.
I looked in her direction to see the tsunorabi rushing towards me. When it got within reach, I bent over and grabbed it by its neck. Still trying to escape, its stubby legs wriggled in mid-air.
Meiri’s bawling stopped.
「…Do you want to keep it? Nobody will hunt it if it’s your pet.」
「Okay… I’ll keep it…」
Another thing to explain to Leyte afterwards…
I handed the adventurer responsible for its capture a thousand rin as promised. Noticing that Meiri was still staring at the rabbit, I asked if she wanted to hug it, to which she nodded.
「Careful — its horns may be short, but they’re still horns. It might put up a fight, too.」
Sniffling, the little princess took the tsunorabi into her arms. Fortunately, it allowed itself to be handled with ease.
「It’s so warm… and fluffy… like a cloud! Rabbit-chan is really cute…」
I heard a noise from under the counter.
「Muu… did you really have to go and put another rival on the playing field?」
「Hm. You talk a lot for a black cat that only knows how to sweet-talk someone.」
「When I stared at that blasted rabbit, it glared back at me! Me, the Demon King! What insolence! I must show it who’s on top, hmph!」
I suppose Meiri will pay more attention to the tsunorabi than black cat Lyla from now on.
「Oh yeah, I haven’t seen Dee in a while. Is she on a quest?」
As an adventurer, Meiri was accompanied by Lyla (as a cat) and Rodje (as an escort) at all times. Dee doesn’t spend all her time with them, but she does appear to say hi at least once a day.
「Dee is on a long-term quest… and won’t be able to return for the time being.」
Rodje looked at me sideways.
「A long-term quest? There’s such a thing in this country?」
「…Rodje Sandsong. The ‘Hater’ you taught me was very effective. Thank you.」
「Hm…!? Being thanked by you makes my body feel woozy…」
「Do you want more praise?」
「No, stop it!」
Still overwhelmed with the excitement of owning a pet, Meiri stood there fawning over the rabbit as a company of knights entered. Accompanied by the often-seen attendant, Luno, they always came to fetch the princess after her quest had ended. Lyla and Rodje bade farewell to her and dispersed.
「Oh? Is that a rabbit-chan in your possession, Alias-sama?」
Upon hearing her attendant’s question, Meiri produced the tsunorabi from her folded arms.
「It’s my pet!」
「I see. I recall your Highness saying that you liked your kitty…」
The little princess shook her head.
「No! I like this one!」
Having received the shock of her life, the black cat at my feet continued cursing the tsunorabi long after it — and the little princess — had left.