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[Character Recruitment Quest]…

It was probably a fair assumption that it referred to a quest which would unlock a new party member for me. That said, it was my first time receiving a Quest notice of any kind through my strange HUD-like field of vision, much less a character recruitment one, so I stopped in my tracks, surprised.

A new character, huh… it was a welcome development – more party members meant safer grinding, after all – but I couldn’t help but wonder what had triggered it. Was it completely random chance?

Considering the condition of having [Durandal] equipped, that was highly unlikely.

Kyoko, who had continued walking ahead, turned to me with a quizzical look, as if asking me whether anything was out of the ordinary. I shook my head.

“No, it’s nothing important, just… hm…”

Come to think of it, I had also met Kyoko because of the [Sibylline] I had drawn from the [Gacha]. Just like that time, an SSR [Gacha] weapon was a key point to a character recruitment event…

“…Could it be that?”

One of the numerous gacha games I had played, Gr*nblue Fa*tasy, had a system where you pulled weapons from the gacha, and those weapons came with characters which you could then slot into your parties. It was possible that this world worked on a similar principle.

This conclusion did raise the question of why I hadn’t received a similar notification for the case of Kyoko, but I also had an explanation for that: since I already had [Sibylline] at the time, there was no need to inform me; the quest organically occurred.

From my deliberations, I came to 2 conclusions.

First, whenever I drew an SSR weapon from the [Gacha], it was likely that I would be able to use it to activate a new [Character Recruitment Quest].

Second, any individuals that I met through this method would likely be of an equivalent power level to Kyoko when I first met her.

…Of course, all this raised numerous questions about free will and self-determinism, but I felt like thinking about those things would result in unnecessary headaches and unwanted depression, so I focused on happy things.

“…I hope the new person is nice.”

Kyoko tilted her head further down, emphasising her confusion. I laughed and caught up with her, patting her head.

“It’s nothing.”

Kyoko pouted and moved like she was trying to escape my hand.

…It’s not very convincing when you push your head harder into my palm, you know?

As we walked, I equipped [Durandal], stowing [Sibylline] away and fastening [Durandal] at my side. Losing the accelerated [Login Bonus] hurt, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make if it meant I would be able to get a new party member.

Kyoko looked at me with curiosity when she saw that I had equipped a weapon I was not proficient in, but another round of headpats quickly dispelled her concerns.

We entered Kronshire without incident, much to my disappointment. I had been hoping that the [Quest] would begin while we were queueing, but even though I had changed my [Class] and wore the borrowed miko outfit, the guards recognised me from the last time and waved me in, ahead of the crowd.

As we headed back to the same inn where I had stayed during my first visit, we took the longest possible route with numerous detours, all in the hopes of encountering any event that might trigger the [Quest]. No luck. It seemed like it was impossible to force the [Quest] to trigger. I sighed and resigned myself to waiting patiently for the trigger event to occur organically, and entered the inn. The innkeeper greeted us with a smile, welcoming me back.

“You’re in luck, lady Valkyrie. There’s only one room left available for tonight, and it just so happens to be the same room that you stayed in the last time.”

Her eyes twinkled meaningfully. I took that to mean that she had secretly kept the room available for us while claiming to her other guests to be fully booked. Since I happened to like that room’s view of the central plaza, I was grateful for her willingness to turn away customers for my sake. I made a mental note to leave her a generous tip, and was just about to thank her for her consideration, when the door to the inn burst open.

A tall, skinny man marched in through the open doorway. He wore expensive clothes, woven with fabrics that were clearly of high quality. His hair was kept in a frankly ridiculous-looking bowl cut, and he had a goatee that made him look like one of the conniving villains you see in period dramas. Pretty much everything about him screamed “generic villain”. He was just… not very memorable. Arguably the thing that stood out about the man was, ironically, the ordinary-looking sword clipped at his waist. It was clearly a high-quality weapon, and the sheath was ornately decorated with various patterns, but it was aesthetically tasteful and contrasted heavily with the gaudiness of the rest of his clothing. It was a curious contrast – I would have expected someone like this to wear an ornamental sword inlaid with jewels or something.

However, any thoughts I had about the sword vanished when I saw the woman who entered behind him. I choked in surprise, while Kyoko next to me flushed red and averted her eyes. The woman, seeing our reactions, averted her own gaze and blushed intensely.

The woman was wearing a metal bunnysuit. That was literally the only way I could describe it. It seemed like it was made of the same material as ordinary plate armor, but it protected… basically nothing. It was a bunnysuit like you would see in adult films, except it was made of metal, and her entire midriff, starting from just above her waist to around the halfway point of her chest, was exposed by a large window – though at that size, perhaps calling it a balcony would be a more accurate description. It gave onlookers a generous glimpse of the underside of her B-cup chest, and it basically offered no protection at all since it exposed literally all of her vitals to enemy attack. The suit rode up her inner hips to her back, where it was cut so low that a part of her butt was showing. Her feet were clad in metal greaves, but they had been designed to look like high heels, which must have been extremely uncomfortable to walk around in. I was surprised – and thankful – to find that she had, at least, not worn a bunny-ear headband.

In a word, it was an extremely distasteful outfit.

The woman trailed behind the villainous-looking man, keeping her head down as she followed his steps. The man ignored me and shoved me aside, taking my place at the reception desk.

“I need a room for tonight. The best one you have. I hear this is the best inn in the city, and I hope I won’t be disappointed.”

The innkeeper tore her eyes off the woman and shook her head.

“I’m terribly sorry, sir, but we are completely booked for tonight. Perhaps you could try the Blue Lyric down the street? As much as it pains me to admit, their rooms are just as-“

“Bah. Nonsense. If you don’t have a room, make room. Throw someone out.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I couldn’t possibly do that to my guests, our reputation would-“

“Julienne.”

“Y-Yes!”

The man said a name. The bunnysuit girl jolted and answered, flustered.

“Draw your weapon.”

The girl glanced at the innkeeper, then at the man, then back at the innkeeper. Then she looked at the man with pleading eyes.

“Please, Your Excellency, don’t make me-“

“I said, draw your weapon, Julienne von Daig.”

The girl winced when he spoke her full name. She glanced at the sword fastened to the man’s waist – the one that looked out of place – and hung her head. Then she reluctantly drew the rapier clipped to her side.

Hm? She kept glancing at the sword. Interesting. I focused on the sword and appraised it.

…Oh? An interesting development, indeed.

“Point it at the innkeeper.”

The innkeeper’s eyes widened. The girl bit her lip and glanced at the sword again, then did as she was instructed as tears started to gather around the corner of her eyes. The man smiled at the innkeeper.

“Now, are you absolutely sure that you cannot make special arrangements for me?”

Next to me, Kyoko’s eyes were burning with anger. She started to take a step forward, but I clamped my hand firmly on the shoulder. This was not the way to resolve the situation. There was no need for this to escalate into a fight. I cleared my throat to make my presence known and looked to the innkeeper.

“Give him my room. I can find somewhere else for tonight.”

The innkeeper stared at me, and then nodded gratefully. Interestingly, the bunnysuit girl also bowed her head repeatedly in thanks. The man, seeing her behaviour, scowled and slapped her across the face, before glaring at me.

“Good that you know your place, peasant. You should feel honoured to be of service to I, Earl Klarent.”

He dismissed me with a wave and turned to the innkeeper, holding out his hand for the keys. The girl – Julienne – stood beside him, holding her hand to her cheek where she had been struck. Unable to stand the sight of this man any longer, I turned my back on them and left the inn, Kyoko in toll.

Once we were outside, Kyoko turned to me and crossed her arms while glaring at me, demanding an explanation. Well, I expected this, and her angry face was kind of cute, too, anyway.

“Just now, I appraised that sword around that man’s waist.”

Kyoko blinked, then tilted her head, then signalled for me to continue.

“According to my appraisal results, that sword was called [Durandal (Artificial)].”

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AcquiHime

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